“Everything costs. Even if you want to breathe clean air today, it will cost you.” Working mother of two, Ashima Sharma has a thing or two to share with the thousands of home owners who will move into their newly built apartment buildings on the Noida Expressway this year. Having spent about four years living in one of the early apartment complexes on the expressway, the hands on mother knows this developing region inside out.
“I think it’s getting better every year, every six months. But if you want quality things you have to go back to the city. So everything is not easily available on the expressway. Especially when it comes to entertainment there is nothing for kids here as such like eating out. There are small units opening up which do cafeteria type of things. But entertainment, sports activities.. it does become a challenge.”
Even the daily run for milk and bread can get challenging when the only store in the vicinity is inside your society’s complex and it suddenly runs out of groceries.
Daily needs aside, Ashima exclaims the lack of public transport in these sectors is the biggest headache for mothers. “Public transport is a menace. You have to have two cars. One for adults to go to work and one to do the errands.” The Noida Authority has been assuring that it is planning a city bus service with 200 bus shelters across Noida. But until then, it is your sedan to the nearest sabzi mandi!
Executives, teachers, artists, entrepreneurs, Noida Expressway is home to the new intelligent Indian who wants to live in a modern society. So it comes as a rude shock to their sense of independence, especially women, when they learn that driving or walking around in these sectors after the sun set is risky.
“Personally I don’t find them safe. Even the expressway I would try to travel on it when there’s traffic on it. There isn’t enough lighting and there are potholes which appear from nowhere. Connectivity of phones is a problem here. So if you’re stuck somewhere on the sector lane and there isn’t enough traffic, it’s not safe.”
The Noida Authority claims it has requested the SSP of the Noida region to beef up the patrolling frequency of PCR vans in these less inhabited sectors. However the authority’s digital surveillance project that will see CCTVs installed at every junction, is still stuck at the tender stage.
Her flat is one of the many crore plus-priced properties on the Noida Expressway that are rated prime on the real estate charts. She like many property buyers today are paying that extra premium, hoping it will offer them a better quality of life. And most importantly an escape from the traffic jams Delhi is (in)famous for. But then reality bites.
Residents share that traffic management of these new residential sectors is terrible. Traffic lights betray during rush hours. And critical internal roads are not manned by enough traffic personnel. Private vehicles, school buses and the odd cycle rickshaw, all fight it out for the first right of way. “It’s absolute anarchy during school hours” says this resident.
“I feel this is a new development, the government has the resources and knowledge. It’s very difficult to fix an old thing but when you’re making something new, you can make it properly. They always talk about lessons learnt, you can’t learn a lesson unless you remedy it with action.”
This is where I am troubled by a question. Developers of private housing projects have to adhere to a checklist of deliverables to procure an occupation certificate that allows people to start residing in them. Why aren’t local development bodies assessed on how much infrastructure they have managed to develop alongside? How can they allow their citizens to start living in an area when they are still networking water pipelines and street lights? On what basis can they question the livability of housing projects, when outside that gated complex, residents are greeted with dust, crime and traffic chaos.
Vasudha Sharma, Anchor & Correspondent- The Property Show