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Elevated highway changes Ludhiana’s landscape | Chandigarh News

Passing through the heart of Ludhiana, Punjab’s industrial hub grappling with extreme air pollution and other environmental concerns since decades now, the 4/6 lane Elevated Highway has changed city’s landscape, quite literally.

In a first such view for Ludhianvis, the old establishments on Ferozepur road such as the iconic Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) or Hotel Park Plaza, the city’s first ‘five-star’ facility are now half-visible, with huge flyover erected at their front. The city has also sacrificed iconic spots such as Aarti Chowk, which had the statue of noted Punjabi poet Prof Mohan Singh, for the project.

However, the 12.65-km-long Elevated Highway, from Samrala Chowk to MC limits (towards Jagraon) via city’s bottleneck Bharat Nagar Chowk and Amar Shaheed Sukhdev Thapar bus terminal (main bus stand), has come as a breather for residents of Ludhiana, who have been relieved of constant congestions and traffic woes, to a great extent. The end to end travelling time from Samrala Chowk to MC limits has been reduced from 30-40 minutes to 8-10 only, thus saving at least 20-25 minutes.

What still remains a major concern is the lack of greenery under the long flyover, where the patches of soil beds are lying barren and parched, without a single sapling planted either by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which has undertaken the entire project, or the local Municipal Corporation. Started in October 2017, the project initially had met with a lot of resistance from city residents as at least 3,000 trees were chopped for it from Ferozepur road, the city’s lifeline (previously NH-95 and new NH-5).

Map of the highway.

Executed by the NHAI, the elevated road has been constructed for Rs 756.27 crore (entirely funded by the Centre via Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways). It was finally completed in March this year.

What has come as another major relief is the accessibility to the city’s main bus stand, also near the perennial bottleneck Bharat Nagar Chowk, and now residents of colonies on Ferozepur road such as Aggar Nagar, Rajguru Nagar, BRS Nagar, Sarabha Nagar, PAU residents, etc can reach bus stand in less than 10 minutes, which earlier took at least half an hour.

ACP (traffic) Charanjiv Lamba says that the Elevated Road has become the lifeline of the city, relieving residents from congestions and traffic snarls on the Ferozepur road, which is also a national highway. “Places such as Samrala Chowk, bus stand have become easily accessible. It is not only reducing the travelling time for the people but also saving fuel and will help in reducing pollution due to congestion-free drive on the flyover,” says ACP Lamba.

The highway has changed Ludhiana’s landscape (Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

However, some issues with the design still remain. “I have also written to the NHAI for extending the median at Bhai Wala Chowk by 200 metres and some redesign work which is required at Bharat Nagar Chowk,” says ACP Lamba.

The project will also help residents in reaching the upcoming Halwara Airport in lesser time.

No green cover

Lack of green cover under and along the new flyover has made the new project merely a concrete jungle. Ludhiana is among the most polluted cities in the world, the major sources being industry and massive vehicular burden.

Navratan, project director, NHAI, Ludhiana, said that they have already compensated for the lost greenery by carrying out plantations elsewhere as per original plan. He said that planting saplings under the flyover was not a “part of the original project”.
“Planting saplings under the flyover was not a part of the original project. But seeing the demand of the residents, we are taking it up and might plant saplings in coming months,” said the NHAI official.

Barren road divider under elevated road on Ferozpur road in Ludhiana. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

“Directly, the project has reduced travel time and congestion but indirectly, it will also reduce vehicular emission and save fuel due to hassle-free driving,” said NHAI official.

Rahul Verma, member, Punjab State Road Safety Council, said that greenery was not only missing under the flyover but also along the highway from where trees were chopped for the project. “It is NHAI’s moral responsibility to restore green cover on Ferozepur road from where they had chopped several grand-old trees for the project,” said Verma.

Ludhiana AQI (air quality index) was recorded at 172 (moderate) in the past 24 hours.

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