Friday, January 01, 2010
The Big Picture of the Keshi Ghat Flyover
Shyam Das kindly posted maps of Vrindavan which make it possible to better visualize the big picture. On the map, the bridge roughly from the numbers 10 to 17 along the top right hand side.
Here is the story: There is a new superhighway being built from Noida just east of Delhi all the way to Agra. This highway is being built with great haste as a part of the 2010 Commonwealth Games preparations. The Taj Expressway or the Yamuna Expressway. It runs along the south bank of the Yamuna. That may be a bit confusing when looking at this map because the Yamuna is always curving. It's general direction, however, is flowing southeast.
Now what they have done is to build a bridge across the Yamuna near where the N on the directional arrow is pointing. This bridge is part of an access road that joins the new highway to Vrindavan.
What the planners decided was that the Parikrama Marg would make a perfect continuation of this access to the town itself, but it did not solve the problem of congestion in the town itself by the influx of outside traffic. They have already built a new major road and flyover across the railroad tracks just to the west of the map connecting the Mathura Road to the Bhaktivedanta Marg. What they are doing, in effect, is creating a ring road that will go around the entire town, using the Parikrama Marg wholesale for that purpose. That way, traffic going to the very busy northeast corner has several points of access.
Since the highway is running basically to the south of the old town, the access point they chose was the most logical, because it is the closest. To build a bridge further along the Yamuna would mean extensive expropriations of land as well as a lot of new construction (in their wisdom they have already paved most of the Parikrama Marga and opened it to vehicular traffic).
Judging by the map, the southwestern portion of the Parikrama Marg as far as Mathura Road is probably a write-off. It cannot be saved. The access road will be built and traffic channeled to Krishna-Balaram that way. However, what is the necessity of a double access from both sides? If they really want to build something on the eastern or northern side, why not use the other side of the river? Of course, as stated above, this will also be politically difficult, since they have already had a lot of trouble (as is usually the case) with expropriations of farm land. It would also be much more expensive, as it would require quite a bit of new road to be built as well as a second bridge somewhere further along the northwest corner of the map. Since much of the farmland there is flood plain, the bridge would also have to be much longer than the current project requires.
Moreover, from the ecological point of view, new roads on that side would mean new unbridled development, which would be, in other ways, just as damaging.
The overarching idea is that during the Commonwealth Games, an influx of tourists is expected. These tourists will almost inevitably go to the tourist triangle of Jaipur-Agra-Delhi. Vrindavan is conveniently located on this axis, but has been missing out on much of the tourist traffic because of access difficulties. The MVDA sees this as a golden opportunity to suck in a few of these tourist dollars, but it requires a fast-in, fast-out. The main tourist spots are not the old temples in Vrindavan town. Not even the architectural heritage sites like Keshi Ghat, but Krishna-Balaram, Kripaluji's huge temple and things like Pagal Baba's temple, all of which are near to this route. Other sights like Keshi Ghat or Madan Mohan can be looked at from the bus or car window.
People may even stop for a moment as they go by and snap a picture of Keshi Ghat from the bridge and paste it on their facebook page. Dollars are king. The peasant bhaktas bathing in the polluted waters below, if there are any left, will merely be exotic color for their photo albums.
The only light I see in this tunnel is that the absolute necessity of building the bridge right now, etc., before 2010. It will be a little more troublesome, but the new flyover to the west of the town means that there is access to that sector. So perhaps they will agree to a revision of the project.
Everything stated above is my own opinion and no one else's and is based on my best understanding of the current situation.