New Delhi: Commuters on the road from Kalindi Kunj to Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad had a harrowing time on Wednesday after Uttar Pradesh Police barricaded one of the carriageways to facilitate the movement of kanwariyas. This caused a traffic jam over a kilometre long.
When TOI visited the Delhi-UP border, it found Delhi Traffic Police had erected posts and used ropes to create a path for the kanwar marchers, leaving the rest of the road for traffic. UP Police, however, shut down the entire carriageway and this caused the vehicles to slow down and stall. There was a total mess throughout the day.
Mahima Harjai, a senior project manager with a private firm, left her office in Okhla just after 6pm. “I was hoping to be home in a maximum of an hour, but today the traffic was really heavy from the U-turn towards Noida. I tried to take a detour via the interior roads, but they too were clogged,” said Harjai. “I finally made it home after three hours. It was horrible to be on the road like that. In fact, I parked my car on the side and ran some errands. There was nothing much else to do.”
Harjai saw even ambulances stuck in the gridlock. “What is the way out of such traffic when you are facing an emergency,” she asked. “It’s a risky and dangerous situation to be in.”
Ganesh Prasad Saha, DCP (Traffic), Gautam Budh Nagar, said that elaborate arrangements had been made to facilitate the pilgrims’ safe passage through the district. “The kanwariyas arrive from Ghaziabad and western UP to Noida via Mayur Vihar in Delhi. They then take the road past Okhla Bird Sanctuary and exit at Kalindi Kunj. We have a kanwar control room at the Chilla border,” said Saha. At the control room, the kanwariyas’ names are registered and they are then guided towards Shani Temple and on to Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
The route past the sanctuary till Kalindi Kunj is around 4km. The traffic police said that around 100 pilgrims crossed this segment every day and the number was likely to go up now. “The pilgrims are returning from Hardwar with holy water and there will be more on the road soon. We have restricted traffic movement to ensure their safety,” said inspector Ashutosh Singh.
Just ahead of the Noida traffic police barricade, Delhi Traffic Police have used ropes and to demarcate a walkway for the kanwariyas. This has left room for vehicles on the road. But there still was chaos on Wednesday. “After the downpour in the afternoon, the road was choked and motorists going from Delhi towards Noida had a hard time,” admitted a traffic officer.
Police have suggested alternative routes via DND or Faridabad, but commuters prefer the much shorter Kalindi road. “We have requested the Noida traffic police to either create a passage for the kanwariyas like we have or to stop traffic periodically to allow the marchers to cross the road in groups,” the officer said. “On Wednesday, as the traffic was way denser than on Tuesday due to the rains, we had to request our counterparts to permit traffic whenever there were no kanwariyas approaching the spot.”
Many people came out of their cars to ask the traffic managers why there was so much pandemonium there. A car breaking down didn’t help matters and two traffic policemen had to push the car to make space for the vehicles. They then summoned a crane to move the stalled car.
Rudrani Singh, a sports research officer working in Tughlakabad, had an appointment with a doctor in Noida but was intractably stuck at Kalindi Kunj. “As commuters, we understand that kanwariyas have the right of way. But traffic officials have to manage things properly,” the exasperated Singh sighed. “In all the time that I was stuck on the bridge, I saw only two yatris passing by. Their safety can be ensured by dedicating one lane to them and allowing the other for vehicles. Shutting the entire road makes no sense.”