( 0 Votes )


The Smug Commuter: On moving to Gurgaon four years ago, we shifted to a locality using Golf Course Road as a vital daily route. I was quite taken up with this wide-laned road, with its large central verge and impressive tree-cover. Laburnum and frangipani trees completely transformed the landscape in season with bright yellow and white flowers respectively. The big plus was that it could take 5-6 lanes of traffic on each side. When others complained of dreadful jams, we were fortunate. For a brief interim period, the erstwhile roundabout experienced chaotic traffic, but that too improved once the roundabout went. The road surface here was better than most, especially after the monsoons. The years went by, the tree cover grew rapidly, and this was undoubtedly one of Gurgaon’s greenest, fastest commutes. Daily commuters here were a privileged lot, if I say so rather smugly.

The Shocked Commuter: One fine morning last October, there was sudden activity of tree-chopping – just when we were admiring how beautifully the trees had grown! The administration at best of times is never prompt in starting/completing tasks; in this case, they worked at superfast speed. The trees were chopped and lifted within a few hours. When commuters drove by that evening, they were in for a rude shock seeing glaring bald patches resembling a haircut gone drastically wrong.

That was the first sign of bad news for Smug Commuter. Shortly after the road was literally stripped naked, further shocks awaited – sudden diversions one fine day in December with talk of road upgradation. No advance warning in newspapers; complete pandemonium as harassed commuters suffered jams.

The Hopeful Commuter: The diversions were reversed after protests, so some false sense of assurance returned. Commuters hoped they would not be too badly off in the coming months, with talk of a fancy 16-lane expressway – on a road that ironically needed no improvement. Then the abuse to the road began. Sections were cordoned off and butchered – notably two bits at Arjun Marg and near Alchemist Hospital, with drastic reduction from the earlier 4-6 lanes (including service lanes) to two lanes.

The Dismayed Commuter: Hope soon turned to dismay when these bottlenecks ensured it took 10-12 minutes to pass through a short 50m stretch. Concerned Road Safety Officers stepped in to study the traffic flow and together with traffic police were able to bring in some improvements.

The Taken-for-granted commuter: Signs said ‘work-in-progress’; regrettably, there was neither work nor progress. Incredibly, on the reduced stretch in front of Alchemist, no work whatsoever has happened for over eight whole months! Why, can someone please answer the question, why then was this stretch cordoned off, causing immense daily hardship to commuters if work here wasn’t commencing? The meaningless sign saying ‘Inconvenience regretted’ just does not make up for needless daily hardship faced because someone somewhere did a rotten job of planning. Alongside bright colourful barrels appeared, further slowing down traffic. No-one can understand why they are there and cannot be immediately removed.

On the Arjun Marg end, we hope there has been some progress (the hidden excavated areas do not permit peeping into the pit of reality). The original metal barricades were blue, gradually acquiring shades of orange with assault of paan stains, soon mutating to a rust-brown colour. The only visible (and completely unnecessary) progress was repainting these barricades yellow, during which time painters chatted while occupying the lane they stole from commuters now squeezed into a single lane. Adding insult to injury, the road was widened on the left side but left like a dirt-track – you’d drive here only if you are driving someone else’s car or have a sturdy heart and strong back! That means renewed nightmarish jams. We wonder if urgent carpeting of this part is on anyone’s agenda.

The Not-so-smug-anymore Commuter: Yes, our Golf Course Road has rapidly gone downhill. This once-great road resembles the surface of the moon; hopes for any patch-up under current circumstances are remote. It has lost its green cover. As a perfect example of ‘closing the stable door after the horses have bolted’, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board informed the National Green Tribunal that environmental clearances were not taken by DLF-HUDA before felling 1000+ trees. Further felling has been stalled, small consolation as the largest and best have already gone.

‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking an egg’, goes a Scottish saying. In other words, development comes at a cost and before the finished product, there is expected mess. We, as commuters are willing to bear that cost in the interest of progress – ONLY IF we see clear plans, steady progress, a will to complete things fast and some attempt to minimize commuter inconvenience. Everyone in Gurgaon works night-shifts; why not this project too, crashing project time rather than indefinite extensions? Maybe a few years down the line, Golf Course Road commuters may be a smug lot once again – but for now, we remain Shocked, Dismayed, Taken-for-granted and Not-so-smug anymore.



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