New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) Sleek low-floor buses, a well-equipped bus depot, elevated corridors, numerous flyovers and massive streetscaping...the infrastructural facelift in the run up to India's biggest sporting event, the 19th Commonwealth Games (CWG) last year, has yielded a treasured legacy for the national capital.
The Games left nearly 25 roads and bridges with a revamped look. This included the introduction of new bus stops, streetscraping and beautification along the roads in the form of potted plants and abundant greenery. After all, the international spotlight was on India.
The beautification drive was undertaken by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Delhi Development Authority (DDA) and the Public Works Department (PWD) at an estimated cost of Rs.270 crore.
One year after the Games, the capital today boasts of 50 flyovers, many of which were constructed and renovated before CWG.
Connaught Place, the commercial hub of the capital, got waterless urinals which don't have to be cleaned frequently.
MCD installed around 500 such urinals at ITO, Indira Gandhi Stadium, Old Delhi Railway station, New Delhi Railway Station, Kailash Colony and Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) before the CWG began.
'Earlier, it was a hellish experience to walk around Janpath, it used to be so nauseating. But now it's so much better,' says Pragati Dua, a college student.
But the most positive outcome of CWG for Delhiites by far has been the phasing out of Blueline buses and the introduction of low-floor buses, most say.
Delhi got an added fleet of 1,250 low-floor buses that replaced 1,800 Blueline buses. Currently, there are 6,450 low-floor buses plying on the roads, including the air-conditioned ones.
'To be greeted by bus conductors whistling to invite passengers, and their way of driving almost scaring you out was a blot on the transportation system,' said DU student Ashwini Sikka.
The low-floor buses also have a swanky depot to be stationed at. The Millennium Park Bus Depot, neighbouring the Games Village in east Delhi's Akshardham, has a capacity to house around 1,000 buses.
'This is the world's largest bus depot. It has five workshop-cum-bus scanning centres, seven dormitories, night stay facility for around 500 people and eight washing pits,' a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) official said.
The depot also boasts of street-lighting facility with energy-saving features, four underground tanks for washing buses and two CNG filling stations.
Billed as the 'greenest depot' of the country, it was constructed in a short period of time, according to officials, and was built at a cost of Rs.61 crore.
The city also got the Barapullah elevated corridor which was constructed for the purpose of transporting athletes from the Games Village in Akshardham to the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. The corridor now connects the two parts of the capital in 20 minutes.
Then, there's the Metro. Though Metro work began long before Delhi won the bid to host the Games, the speed with which it spread across the capital and National Capital Region (NCR) in the last three years wouldn't have happened without the 'push' the Games provided, experts feel.
'There have been some remarkable changes after the CWG... Connecting east Delhi and south Delhi through a single infrastructural mode was difficult. Similarly, introducing Metro to Gurgaon has promoted public transport,' P.K. Sarkar, professor of transport planning at the School of Planning and Architecture, told IANS.
Corporate executive Poornima Sharma, 26, doesn't remember the last time she drove to work in Gurgaon's Cyber City after the Metro brought the satellite town closer to Delhi last September, just ahead of the Games Oct 3-14.
Life has changed for many like Sharma who travel by the air-conditioned Metro zipping through north Delhi to Gurgaon in a matter of 45 minutes. According to Metro officials, over 100,000 people travel from Delhi to Gurgaon a day in the Metro.
'Buses and Metro have added to the connectivity. However, car ownership has increased in Delhi. So, to take the existing infrastructure forward, we need to boost the MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System),' Sarkar said.
The dichotomy, feel experts, lies in the fact that flyovers and connecting corridors that reduce travel time do not necessarily increase public transport usage.
The civic agency has been maintaining the infrastructure through the Build Operate Transfer (BOT) model. 'We had roped in private firms for maintenance and cleanliness of street furniture,' said MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur.
Far from becoming a faded memory, much of the infrastructure proves to be a boon for Delhi residents - almost every day.
(Madhulika Sonkar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)