The newly inaugurated main tunnel of the Pragati Maidan Integrated Transit Corridor project here was opened for traffic on Monday morning, officials said.
For a week, only day-time travel, from 8 am and 8 pm, will be allowed in the tunnel to observe how the facility is responding to the traffic load and also to stabilise the traffic pattern, a PWD official said.
“Vehicular movement in the tunnel started this morning. The traffic police and well as PWD officials will keep a close watch on the movement of vehicles to ensure that everything goes smoothly,” a senior official of the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) told PTI.
A small “pooja” was also performed before the opening of the tunnel for the public and commuters were distributed sweets, said officials of the Public Works Department (PWD), which has built the tunnel and underpasses.
Commuters welcomed the opening of the tunnel.
“Today I used the newly built tunnel and it was a breezy ride to India Gate. Because of the tunnel I could ditch the traffic jam at Bhairon Marg, ITO and reached my destination on Janpath,” said Shishir Srivastava, resident of Patparganj in east Delhi.
Delhi’s first road tunnel in the Pragati Maidan area and its five underpasses were inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday. The Pragati Maidan Integrated Transit Corridor, comprising a 1.3-km-long tunnel and five underpasses have been built over four years. PWD officials said the corridor will allow commuters travelling to India Gate and other central Delhi areas from east Delhi, Noida and Ghaziabad to ditch traffic snarls at ITO, Mathura Road and Bhairon Marg.
The tunnel starts near the National Sports Complex of India at the Purana Qila Road and passes underneath the redeveloped Pragati Maidan to meet the Ring Road near the Pragati Power station.
Officials explained that with the opening of the tunnel, Connaught Place or India Gate-bound motorists coming from Noida, Ghaziabad or east Delhi will not necessarily have to go to ITO as they can use the tunnel and reach their destination easily.
Earlier, commuters had to face bottlenecks at ITO, Mathura Road, Bhairon Marg and the Ring Road as well while going towards central Delhi areas.
“With the opening of the tunnel commuters will get smooth access to their destinations in central Delhi from Noida, Ghaziabad and East Delhi and vice-versa. The facility will save nearly 10 to 15 minutes,” a PWD official told PTI.
Deepak Rastogi, a commuter to Connaught Place, said he saved around 10 minutes on Monday through the tunnel.
“Today I travelled through the tunnel to reach my office in Connaught Place. It was a smooth ride as I bypassed traffic snarls of ITO and Bhairon Marg. The tunnel takes you directly to India Gate passing underneath Pragati Maidan. I saved around 10 minutes,” he said.
Ashima Gaur, a resident of Indirapuram in the NCR, said the tunnel will help commuters save a lot of time.
“Opening of the tunnel was a dream of every motorist passing through ITO and nearby areas. We will now be able to avoid traffic snarls and reach our destinations in comparatively less time,” she said.
Another commuter, Pradeep Kumar, said the tunnel will not only help people save time and money but also reduce pollution in the city.
The construction work of the tunnel started in March 2018 and was scheduled to be completed by September 2019. The deadline was extended to June 2020 due to the complexities involved in the construction work.
It was inaugurated on Sunday after missing five deadlines.
The Pragati Maidan Integrated Transit Corridor project, which also entails six underpasses, has been built at a cost of over Rs 920 crore and funded entirely by the Central government.