The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has teamed up with various street artists as part of a beautification campaign that aims to add a dash of colour along the recently inaugurated 14-lane Delhi-Meerut Expressway (DME). Under this campaign, carried out in association with the construction company Welspun Enterprises Ltd., the NHAI has roped in mural painters associated with four NGOs, namely Delhi Street Art, CsDishaa Foundation, Shunyta House and Visuri Art Labs.
“The NHAI through its concessionaire is promoting the artworks through specialised artistes, NGOs and institutions. The NHAI has given a chance to young artists, taking into consideration their qualifications in similar works,” said R.P. Singh, General Manager (T), Project Director and PIU-Ghaziabad, NHAI.
The murals, painted along the sides of flyovers and on the inner walls of underpasses along the DME, are inspired by different Indian art forms. The most eye-catching artwork here, near Ghazipur, depicts a Sleeping Buddha among other figures.
“We have painted the Sleeping Buddha as the ambassador of peace, using vibrant colours so that the subways look bright,” said Dr Udita Tyagi, chairperson, CsDishaa Foundation, which was commissioned this particular mural.
CsDishaa Foundation deputed the mural artist Rishi Kumar on this project. “I have painted the Sleeping Buddha on one of the underpass walls along the DME, using enamel weather shield paints that will stay for at least five years,” Kumar told Guardian 20.
The Sleeping Buddha is only one among the many strikingly colourful murals gracing this stretch of the DME. These are done in varied styles and are based on themes ranging from mythology and history to urban landmarks of Delhi, Jaipur and Kolkata.
“As a tribute to Kolkata, we have crafted murals depicting the yellow Ambassador taxi, the classic street trams and the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Similarly, for Jaipur, the artworks depict the Hawa Mahal, Jal Mahal, Jantar Mantar as well as a caravan of camels making its way across the desert,” said Yogesh Saini, founder, Delhi Street Art.
“This initiative of NHAI that works towards the inclusion of public art on the expressway has created multiple opportunities for our team of artists at Delhi Street Art to create visually appealing wall artworks that are the first thing travellers coming into the city will get to see and hopefully the last memory they will take along as they leave,” added Saini.
According to Rahul Chauhan, an artist with Delhi Street Art who was also a part of this project, these highway murals are unique, in that they have enabled the vision of numerous street artists to merge with Delhi’s urban infrastructure. “Despite the hot summer days and the noise from traffic,” Chauhan said, “this experience has been very unique for all of us, as our art has become an integral part of the new infrastructure that is being created around New Delhi. With this art we hope that people will keep these flyover spaces clean and well-maintained.”
The main motive behind these creative pieces is to lend an ambience to the bland motorways, as well as to deliver a message of peace and wellbeing to the commuters. “We have thoroughly enjoyed working on the street art project,” said Ritika Jajodia, creative head and co-partner of Shunyta. “We got a lot for artistic freedom. Since this project marks a very important landmark in infrastructural development, Shunyta designed the artwork that brings out the flavours of the diverse culture of India”, said Jajodia. “We painted one of the walls with Warli folk art from Maharashtra. The artwork depicts the hustle of village life and the mural of Mother Universe playing a flute and running the universe. The six pillars with welcoming notes and safe driving messages are also painted by us”, she added.
Besides the wall paintings, the beautification work included the installation of “vertical gardens” along the fence of the Yamuna Bridge. Different types of lights have been also been put up on major structures here to lend them a decorative look. “The NHAI has also provided ‘selfie points’ and rest areas along with parking spaces for travellers, so that they can appreciate the beautification work that has been carried out near the Yamuna River,” added R.P. Singh of the NHAI.