The construction of the Delhi-Mumbai Expressway, a promising infrastructural project, has ushered in a phase of cleaning up unauthorized settlements along its route. Adjacent to the expressway, the Agra Canal stands, and significant portions of land belonging to the Irrigation Department have been occupied for years. This land has witnessed the proliferation of shanties over an extended period.
As the cleanup initiative kickstarts today, it’s evident that the area stretching from Sector-29 to Khedipul is in particularly dire straits. The expressway’s construction is now over 75% complete, with plans to inaugurate it before March of the upcoming year.
A Legacy of Unauthorized Settlements
The bypass area has been dominated by makeshift settlements for over a decade. Entire communities have sprung up, with places like Prem Nagar in Sector-17 housing thousands of shanties. Additionally, scattered settlements span across the 26-kilometer bypass, an issue that seems to have escaped the attention of the Haryana Development Authority. However, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has now taken a keen interest in overseeing the matter.
Challenges to the Expressway Construction
The presence of these informal settlements has posed significant challenges to the expressway’s construction. Many times, the residents had to be relocated, slowing down the progress of the construction. Although the authority removed shanties obstructing the expressway’s path, many residents simply relocated to nearby lands, still owned by the authority. The lack of timely intervention has led to the proliferation of hundreds of shanties, especially around Sector-8 and Badoli. This has created a scenario where children play on the bypass, creating potential safety hazards, and numerous vendors set up stalls along the road.
Green Belt Under Threat
The green belt alongside the bypass, designed to be an ecological buffer, has faced severe degradation due to these encroachments. Numerous trees and plants have been destroyed, and the area is often littered with trash and debris, leading to waterlogging. This has marred the beauty and purpose of the bypass. Rakesh Kumar, the SDO of the Irrigation Department, assured that a comprehensive cleanup of all the shanties would soon be undertaken.