Greater Noida – A beautiful place to live in , where authorities need to remain awake : Ashok Nath – IAS Retd

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Ashok Nath , Former IAS

Greater Noida, I think, is the most well planned town ( it cannot claim to be a city yet) in the NCR. Better and more meticulously planned than either Noida, Gurgaon or even municipal Delhi (as distinguished from Lutyens Delhi). One cannot help but admire its broad, tree lined avenues. Even the central verges are wide ( for future expansion ) and planted with trees. The trees are in colourful bloom at some time or the other throughout the year.
The sewage and the drainage system is very good. One doesn’t see any road flooding during the rains, except, perhaps, the Expo under bridge. Quite a contrast to the rivers of water instead of roads one witnesses in Delhi and Gurgaon. The street lighting is satisfactory. The roads are kept meticulously clean every day. Pollution is non existent, more or less, in contrast to the other areas of NCR where people are gasping for a breath of fresh air.
BUT there are problems. Not surprising, keeping in mind the complacency and inertia that sets in after the initial enthusiasm  sooner or later in a country like ours. I would call it lack of effective administration. Some of the problems are due to the original flaws in town and country planning. Others are due to lack of foresight or underestimation of a rapid growth of population and motor vehicles. But the main problem is lack of effective supervision and systematic inspections by senior officers of the GN Authority. I don’t think there is any system of redressal of citizens’ grievances either.
As I mentioned earlier, there was basic mistake which the town planners made. The same mistake was made by Gurgaon, Noida and municipal portions of Delhi. And that is, while acquiring land for the new or expanding townships, the concerned authorities left the villages in the middle of urban, planned areas. The result has not been very happy. These villages have become eyesores, with slum like conditions; no bye laws, no sewage or drainage facilities, narrow lanes, unauthorised construction, no parking facilities. Life goes on within these villages in the middle of modern urban areas in the ‘ Chalti ka nam gari ‘ mode.
In contrast if you have a look at Lutyens’ Delhi there is not a single village inside the NDMC area, designed by him. He made sure that the splendour of the new Capital would not be spoilt by the incongruent extrapolation of rural into urban ethos. The villages were removed and the villagers were rehabilitated on alternative land and given jobs in the development project.
Before I come to the problems of GN let me confess, my knowledge of this place and area of activity is limited to the places I have to go like banks, CGHS dispensary, nearest dept. store etc. but I’m sure they could apply elsewhere also.
First of all. Driving here is not such a pleasure as it should be with good road surface, wide roads lined with ornamental trees. I am not getting into the lack of road sense of the local folks who whizz around in their fancy SUVs not caring a damn about other road users. It is the danger lurking around some corners. For instance, if you are going towards the petrol pump near Ansal Plaza from the Expo side then there is a blind corner just before the entry into the petrol pump. A clump of wild bushes/ trees completely obstruct the emerging traffic from the petrol pump side. Haven’t the authorities noticed this dangerous situation ? Accidents are waiting to happen. Another example is the turning at the roundabout coming from Pari Chowk towards Alpha Commercial Belt. One cannot see any traffic coming from the Gamma 1 side. Again, because of trees/ bushes planted in the wrong place. It is quite obvious that there is no coordination between the horticulture dept and the traffic police.
Yet another accident prone crossing is the one near the IFS Officers’ Society and NSG. One road comes from AWHO side towards the highway. The other from Gautum Budh Nagar University towards the Expo underpass. There are no warning signs like ‘ GO SLOW. CROSSING AHEAD ‘ At night it is worse. No orange lighted blinkers to warn approaching traffic on either road. No luminous warning signs either. A number of accidents have taken place here, some fatal. Only recently the authorities have put speed breakers, that also , after we have been pursuing the matter for the last two years or so.
Now coming to lack of supervision/inspection. On the road from AWHO to the highway near Greater Valley School a cut across the road was made about two years ago and it is still to be repaired ! Elsewhere the road is repaired as soon as the work is over. Besides the cut there is a heap of Badarpur and stones lying on the road. This also for more than a year. After repairing the drain nobody has bothered to remove the leftover material. Nor have senior officials ever come this side. A fallen lamppost has been lying on the barbed wire fencing of our Society. The lamppost has been replaced long ago but nobody has bothered to remove the fallen one. This, in spite of several reminders to the Society. One can go on ad nauseum.
One problem plaguing the main artery near Pari Chowk, frequent traffic jams, is primarily due to three factors. Firstly, the planners did not see the rapid rise in human and vehicular traffic. No space was provided for auto rickshaws, taxis and buses. As a consequence they are parked on the expressway thereby choking up the free flow of traffic towards Pari Chowk.
Secondly. Lack of discipline and civic sense not to talk about lack of road sense. As I said earlier the autos and Acer taxis are parked haphazardly on either side of the road not caring whether they are blocking of traffic converging on Pari Chowk from three sides. On top of this the  drivers of buses offload their passengers anywhere they want. At anytime of day you will find buses queuing at the Pari Chowk heading for Noida and that too, right in front of the police chowki ! All this frequently leads to massive jams on all three roads converging on Pari Chowk. Sometimes, the line of vehicles on the expressway stretches for several kilometres.
Lastly, the first two inherent problems are compounded by lack of supervision by senior officers and the masterly inactivity of the local police. One doesn’t see any policemen anywhere around Pari Chowk. Probably they are all busy with some VVIP bandobust or giving them protection elsewhere in UP. The blunt fact is they are just not available for Aam Aadmi. I am sure if only a handful of cops were present and with a little swing of their batons and harsh tongue lashing to the unruly lot, a lot of man hours and thousands of litres of precious fuel, not to talk of pollution, could be saved every day.
The extraordinary growth of motor vehicles is also causing problems of parking at major marketing centres. Cars have simply out paced the capacity of the parking space provided. I don’t see any signs of anyone doing anything about it either. As it is one finds a parking place with great difficulty. When you come out from the shop you find a car parked directly behind yours leaving you stuck for a long time sometimes. This is the favourite pastime of the locals. Just see the contrast to Lutyens planning of Delhi. He started his work soon after 1911 when Delhi was declared the seat of Govt. ( shifted from Calcutta ). I am sure there were not more than 10 cars in Delhi at that time. He planned the roads of Delhi keeping in mind the requirements of traffic  after 50 years or more. Now even after 100 years Delhi roads can still take the load. Millions of vehicles ! Roads have been widened but not a single tree had to be felled. Mind you they were not ornamental trees but massive ones like neem, imli jamun and ashok. This is real planning with foresight and vision. Today’s town and country planners could learn a thing or two from him.
Lack of imagination is the cause of yet another problem. Absence of appropriate signages at some places. While the main roads are well covered by them, especially those of JP, rest of the internal roads in society areas are languishing. For instance, in the builders area where there are many societies the roads have neither names nor numbers. Hence signages are very essential to guide outsiders to your residence. You have guests, couriers, delivery boys, electricians, plumbers, taxi drivers to be given directions to your house. How the hell do you do that without street names or signages? When an individual society puts up its on signboard at a crossing it is promptly pulled down by the Authority and probably fined. After pulling down the signboard these people are satisfied on a job well done and move to the next target. That a lot of inconvenience is being caused to hundreds of people every day is neither the concern of these officials nor the powers that be in the Authority.
In conclusion I would say that there is a dichotomy in Greater Noida. A beautiful place to live in if you can tolerate ‘ minor and sometimes irritating inconveniences ‘ but your toleration level has to be really high. A piece of advice for our friends in the Authority:  you better do something about it and fast before the Metro reaches here and the airport comes up at Jewar.

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