UT admin seeks design for underpass, even as experts advice against it

The officials at the Urban Planning department had said that a table top must be constructed instead, as recommended in the Chandigarh Master Plan

The UT Administration is set to go ahead with the construction of the underpass between Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) and Panjab University (PGI) here and has issued a tender calling for its structural design, despite experts advising against it.

Several people shuttle between PU and PGI every day which had led to the UT Administration mulling over having a connecting passage between the two institutions. The engineering wing of the administration has now invited bids for the structural design of the pedestrian subway (underpass) and its construction. However, the department of Urban Planning had raised red flags and expressed concerns over the construction of the underpass and has suggested that a table top be built instead.

The officials at the Urban Planning department had said in November 2019 that an underpass is not required at the location and, instead, a table top must be constructed. They stated that a table top has been recommended here even in the Chandigarh Master Plan. A tabletop is a raised platform on the road itself for the pedestrians to cross over. The urban planning department also conveyed the same to the UT engineering wing, stating that a tabletop is more feasible as mentioned in the Chandigarh Master Plan.

Underpass is not viable, states IIA study
The proposal for the underpass was approved by the UT Administration on November 5, 2019, during a meeting of the administration officials chaired by UT Administrator V P Singh Badnore. The Officials of the engineering wing had given a presentation to Badnore, stating that the underpass will be useful as the area is heavily crowded on both sides.
After the approval, Indian Institute of Architects, Chandigarh- Punjab chapters, had conducted a study at the end of November 2019 and stated that the proposed underpass from Panjab University to PGIMER was not viable and it would be a “colossal waste of money”.

The architect body had found that the underpass will not just disrupt all underground services like sewerage, storm water disposal, water supply and telecom lines during the digging but for over two years traffic will be completely disrupted. The location is one the busiest roads with over 10,000 patients visiting PGIMER and a similar number of visiting Panjab University every day.

The study had also said that “Le Corbusier was not against overpasses and had proposed some in the last phase of the four-phase development plan of roundabout to cope with the growing traffic”. The study had also said that during rains, water will enter the underpass, making it non-functional.

Low footfall on underpasses in city
Whether it is the underpass connecting Rose Garden and Sector 17 or the one connecting the two phases of the terraced garden, underpasses have not been successful in Chandigarh as they lack maintenance and witness waterlogging often during the monsoon season. These are also not well-lit which makes them unsafe for women.
Due to these shortcomings, the city’s underpasses do not receive much footfall.

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