Dimly lit, unclean Gurugram subways remain a nightmare for women commuters

Months after officials of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) assured that the three subways along the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway would be “cleaned and well-maintained”, and the police promised to deploy a “team at subways to check hooligans and miscreants”, these stretches—built solely to ensure people can cross the busy road safely—remain a nightmare for women commuters.

The three subways—one at the defunct Sirhaul toll plaza, one near Rajiv Chowk, and one at the Hero Honda Chowk—remain dimly lit and are flocked by “anti-social elements” after dark. The stretches also double up as short-cuts for two-wheeler riders and as public urinals.

Women commuters the Hindustan Times spoke with complained of being molested. They added that since these stretches are not manned by the police at any time of the day or night, they have no option but to cross the crowded expressway or to travel long distances by public transport just to get to the other side of the road—a time and money consuming task.

The subways also do not have any CCTV cameras.

“It is completely unsafe. Men use the subways to drink and hang in groups. If they see a woman walking alone, they almost always pass lewd comments,” said Sangita Kumar, who works in Udyog Vihar and lives in DLF Phase 3.

Another commuter Shruti Narayan, who works with a corporate near Hero Honda Chowk, complained of poor hygiene and said that men urinate openly in the subways. “I have never seen the subways being cleaned, ever. The men will openly urinate even if they see a woman walking past them. It’s extremely unnerving,” Narayan said.

But maintenance and hygiene are still secondary concerns for women.

Babita Rajkumar, a resident of Udyog Vihar, recollected how she was followed by two inebriated men one night as she was returning home. “I was followed almost all the way till my home. Luckily, I was able to call my husband to come and pick me up,” she said.

Such incidents have been reported by numerous women, who expressed a desire for better management, security and cleanliness.

The assurance by officials concerned, however, felt like a repeat of the ones made in December last year.

Sumit Kuhar, deputy commissioner of police (crime) accepted that they have received complaints about women being teased and stalked in the subway, but did not offer any concrete steps the police would take. We have also taken measures to increase security and patrolling around the subways. However, the maintenance of the subways rests with the NHAI,” he said.

NHAI technical manager BB Jindal said they replace lights whenever they receive complaints. “We have even caged the bulbs, but somehow anti-social elements always manage to break them. We have also informed the police, but have not seen our complaints be acted on.”

First Published: Aug 07, 2018 15:19 IST

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