After remaining stuck in heavy traffic at Transport light point for more than 20 minutes, when 85-year-old cyclist Laxman Singh asked a policeman deployed there that how could he cross over to Sector 28, the personnel replied, “I do not know what is the route. Just keep riding your bicycle with the traffic flow.” This was the kind of chaos and confusion on the first day of the implementation of Union Territory Traffic Police’s ambitious plan to ease weekday congestion on Madhya Marg — the main road connecting Chandigarh and Panchkula.
The diversions introduced in the morning from 9 to 11 had to be withdrawn by 10.45 am due to utter chaos on the Madhya Marg. Police made another attempt in the evening from 5 to 7, but again failed and the diversions were withdrawn by 6.15 pm. Nitin Aggarwal, who was going in his car from Panchkula to Chandigarh in the evening, said it normally take 10 minutes from Kalagram light point to Sector 26 roundabout. “Today, I am stuck at Transport light point for the last 45 minutes,” he said.
Later in the evening, SSP (Traffic) Shashank Anand announced that the current diversion plan has been “discontinued” indefinitely.
The traffic police had been advertising the diversion plan as its pilot project for the last four days. But, it did not work and instead led to massive traffic chaos on the 7-km stretch between Chandigarh and Panchkula (between Sector 26 roundabout and Housing Board light point). Both in the morning and evening, police also used drone cameras to assess the traffic congestion and see if their plan was working.
Anand, who remained on the affected stretch till evening, said he will analyse the drone-camera footage and discuss it with his senior officers.
In a press release issued late in the evening, the traffic police said, “Today on 15.1.19, (the) traffic circulation plan to ease the traffic during peak hours between Chandigarh and Panchkula was implemented on (a) trial basis. We are studying suggestions and problems faced by the commuters today. From tomorrow (Wednesday) onwards, the traffic movement will remain normal as per earlier regulations. After improvement, new traffic circulation plan will be implemented for better traffic flow.”
The worst-affected stretch was from Sector 26 light point to Housing Board light point. As a result, other roads, including from Transport light point till Tribune light point, sectors 28-27 to 27-19, Sector 26 to Sector 7, Sector 26 to Transport Area dividing roads too witnessed major traffic chaos.
Besides the motorists, pedestrians and cyclists, for whom cycle tracks have been carved out on the Madhya Marg, too faced a lot of harassment as they could not find any space, even on the designated places. This, further led to confusion not only among the motorists, cyclists, but even among the police personnel desperately trying to implement the diversions.