In February this year, the 246km portion of the expressway between Sohna in Gurgaon and Dausa in Rajasthan was opened to traffic, cutting down the time taken to travel between Delhi and Jaipur to two-and-a-half hours. On average, around 28,000 vehicles take the expressway daily.
But this 8-lane seamless corridor, where vehicles are permitted to touch speeds up to 120kmph, is proving difficult to manage, especially in Nuh, officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) said on Monday. Over the past few weeks, three people have died in two collisions on the expressway in Nuh.
Last month, the authority had also written to Haryana Police, requesting help to ensure traffic norms are followed on the expressway. The Sohna-Dausa stretch covers 160km via Gurgaon, Palwal and Nuh.
“We are facing problems mostly in the expressway section passing through Nuh,” an NHAI official said.
He said locals in the district, one of the most backward regions of the state in several socio-economic markers, often steal road blinkers, markers and lights installed along the carriageways.
“Anything that can be stolen is taken. All these items will fetch the accused very little amount at the scrap shop, but it costs a fair bit to us,” said the official.
Other key obstacles on the high-speed highway are dhabas set up illegally on the side of the road and parking of trucks taking up an entire lane.
“A majority of people are truck drivers by profession in Mewat, and many of them passing-by park their vehicles or drive on the wrong side of the road. We suspect some of them are also involved in illegal mining in the Aravalis and stop there for a while to find the right time to move without checks,” the official said.
The mushrooming of dhabas along the expressway is another problem the authority is struggling to manage. Officials said it’s another accident risk when people park on one side of the road and try to cross it on foot to reach these eateries on the other side.
Some commuters said they’d had a close shave because of it.
“I was driving above 100kmph when suddenly a group of four people started walking on the expressway from the central verge between the carriageways. I had to hit the brakes and, luckily, there was no vehicle behind my car, otherwise I would have met with a fatal accident,” said Sudhir Mishra, resident of Gurgaon who frequently travels to Jaipur for work.
NHAI project director Mukesh Kumar Meena told TOI that many commuters had reported having similar experiences.
“The entire expressway has no parking zone and dhabas are not allowed. There are designated resting areas every 30-50km, and all the amenities such as fuel stations, restaurants and motels are available there,” Meena said.
The project director said locals defy NHAI teams when they ask them to close down illegal eateries and follow the norms. TOI had reported earlier that NHAI wrote to the Haryana government and police chiefs of Gurgaon, Palwal and Nuh to deploy their own teams on the eway portions within their jurisdictions to enforce traffic rules.
Asked about the authority’s concerns, a Nuh police official said on Monday that they were planning to deploy their own teams on the expressway.
On August 22, a Rolls-Royce that broke away from a 20-car convoy crashed into the back of a fuel tanker on the expressway in Nuh, killing the driver and co-driver of the tanker. Two weeks later, on September 5, a Mercedes collided with a milk tanker on the same expressway section. The Mercedes driver, son of a politician in Faridabad, died of his injuries at a hospital.
The Sohna-Dausa stretch of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway – which will eventually connect India’s two largest metropolises – has CCTV cameras installed every kilometre. NHAI has planned an advanced traffic management system to monitor movement, check violations and immediately dispatch response teams after accidents. A control room is also being built in Alipur to monitor a 78km stretch of the expressway in Haryana.