New Delhi, Oct 26: The annual India International Trade fair this year may witness fewer 'parking blues' and less traffic chaos as the the much-awaited Barakhamba-Indraprastha extension of line three of the Delhi Metro Rail is all set to begin operations in two weeks time.
The stage is all set for opening of the 2.81 km Barakhamba Road-Indraprastha section, comprising the stations of Mandi House, Pragati Maidan and Indraprastha, before the IITF begins, thus benefitting millions of people from all over Delhi who visit Pragati Maidan every year for the fair and other exhibitions.
''This is a very important section of the line three of the Delhi Metr Rail Corporation (DMRC) as it will prove to be a boon to millions visiting Pragati Maidan for exhibitions who often have to search for parking space for their vehicles,'' Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit told reporters after inspecting the three stations of the section, an extention of the Barakhamba Road-Dwarka line of the Delhi Metro, work for which was completed earlier this month.
''The section is undergoing trial runs and we expect that it will be dedicated to the people of Delhi before the commencement of the India International Trade Fair,'' Ms Dikshit, who was accompanied by her entire council of ministers, said.
She said the coming up of the section would also abate the traffic jams witnessed in and around the Pragati Maidan area during the Trade Fair.
Delhi Metro has also made special arrangements to facilitate the movement of visitors to the IITF. For example, the existing number of ten ticket operating machines on the Pragati maidan station will be increased to 16 on the days of the fair depending on the number of commuters.
Besides, the station has been equipped with 16 Automatic Fare collection gates and has two entries and exits.
A temporary walkway is also being constructed from behind the Pragati Maidan Metro station so that visitors can directly go up to Hall 12 of Pragati Maidan without having to use the busy Mathura Road. The walkway will be about 300-m long.
''The starting of the stretch will also facilitate lakhs of officegoers from East Delhi areas who commute daily to their offices in and around Connaught Place. Further, many of the children have their schools in and around the Mandi house area,''she said.
The Chief Minister said a unique feature of the section was that for the first time, the stations have been designed entirely by Indian engineers. Ms Dikshit said the completion of this stretch also marked the end of the phase I of the Delhi Metro. ''From now on, focus will be on phase II of the Metro where, on the one hand, the Metro line will traverse to New Ashok Nagar in Noida, on the other, it will go to Gurgaon in Haryana. Work on both the Indraprastha-New Ashok Nagar and the Barakhamba-Gurgaon sections is expected to complete by 2010 before the commencement of the Commonwealth Games,''she said.
Describing Metro as the 'pride of India', the Chief Minister said it was heartening to note that many foreign delegations had effusively praised the work done by the DMRC.
Earlier, the Chief Minister, also accompanied by East Delhi MP Sandeep Dikshit as well as party chief whip Ramakant Goswami, travelled by the Metro train from the Mandi house station to Indraprastha station.
The 2.81 km stretch will have three stations - Mandi House, Pragati Maidan and Indraprastha. While the Mandi House station is underground, the other two are elevated.
So, while the stretch will be underground from Barakhamba to Mandi house, that between Pragati Maidan and I P Estate will be elevated. From Mandi House, the line will emerge from under the ground on a 330-metre-long ramp at Sikandra road.
Opening of the section has been delayed by nearly a month largely due to the extra time required for the construction of the "extra dozed bridge" to connect the metro network between Pragati Maidan and I P Estate.
The bridge is the first of its kind over a railway crossing in India and second in the world made over a railway crossing for MRTS the first having been already built in Japan.
Commending the Metro for the unique bridge, the Chief Minister hoped that the extra dosed bridge would be one of the beauty landmarks of Delhi.
A considerable amount of time went into construction of the "extra dozed bridge", which pushed back the opening date of the section by more than a month, from September to October-end. What made construction on the stretch difficult than those on other stretches having railway crossings in between was the fact that the railway crossing at Pragati Maidan was heavily busy with all important trains going towards Mumbai and Eastern India passing through it. This made it almost impossible to block the route even for a single day to facilitate construction of the metro bridge.
''About 200 trains, including all important trains going towards Western and Eastern India, pass on the track below the bridge everyday. Because of this, the train movement could not be stopped even for a single day and no pier could be put in between the train tracks. In addition, the bridge has a 302 m radius curvature as required by the alignment.
Also, the main span was kept long to allow for future expansion of the Indian railway lines,'' spokesperson said.
About ten engineers of DMRC and over 230 workers were involved in construction wich was done under trying circumstances like taking care not to disturb overhead electricity lines of the Railways.
The design of the bridge was done by French consultant Systra and independently checked by DMRC. The cost of the bridge, including the design, is about Rs 6.5 crore.
Mr Dayal said the physical work on the section had been completed in just 21 months only whereas underground sections usually took 48 months and elevated sections needed 36 months at least.