Although Modi’s flight landed at the Air Force station, flights at the local airport were nevertheless delayed, and passengers were seen making alternative arrangements.
The road traffic was thrown haywire on the airport road and the roads linking Chandigarh with Panchkula where the prime minister attended the swearing-in ceremony of Manohar Lal Khattar, Haryana’s first BJP chief minister.
Among the affected flights were Air India 864 (Delhi to Chandigarh), which was scheduled to arrive at 10.45 am, was delayed by 32 minutes; Indigo 247 (Mumbai to Chandigarh) was delayed by 46 minutes; Jet Aiways 489 (Mumbai to Chandigarh) by 22 minutes; JetKonnect 5018 (Mumbai to Chandigarh) by 22 minutes and Jet Airways 2651 (Delhi to Chandigarh) by 93 minutes.
Gurjeet Singh, who had to reach Chennai in the evening with his brother, said, “My flight to Delhi has been delayed by two hours. I had to catch a flight to Chennai at 4 pm but now I will not be able to reach Delhi on time. I had to get both tickets rescheduled at the last moment.”
Sukhmani Kaur, who had to travel to Mumbai, said, “I got stuck in traffic jams at every light point. When I reached the airport, I got to know that our flight has been delayed by 46 minutes.’’
All those passengers whose flights were delayed were not allowed to enter the airport later, unless they had printouts of the rescheduled flights.
Long traffic jams were seen at the airport light point, Hallomajra light point, the road leading to the railway station, the Tribune chowk, transport chowk, railway light point, the road opposite Centra Mall, and the housing board crossing.
Among those caught in the jam were thousands of candidates who had come from other states to take the Staff Selection Commission exam.
Although the traffic police were on their toes, there seemed to be a lack of co-ordination at certain places. In Industrial Area, opposite Centra Mall, the police opened up the traffic from three sides by mistake, leading to chaos.
In Panchkula, traffic conditions were chaotic, especially around Sector 5 where the oath-taking ceremony was held.
Security forces regulated traffic on all roads leading to Sector 5 for around two hours, leading to traffic snarls both in Panchkula and Chandigarh. After Modi left and the roads were opened to traffic, crowds of people who had come to attend the ceremony poured out.
There were long jams on the Sector 5-6-7-8 roundabout, the roads dividing sectors 6 and 7, 6 and 5 and other roads around Sector 5. Even vehicles of many VIPs and bureaucrats were temporarily stuck in the traffic.
“The roads were closed around 10.30 am. The whole area remained jam-packed with people and vehicles, especially from 12 to 12.30 pm when people started leaving the venue,” said a police official present at the spot.
“I did not know the timings of the PM’s visit and was driving to Chandigarh. It took me almost an hour as many routes were temporarily closed,” said Isha Walia, a Panchkula resident.
The bus stand in Sector 5 was partially closed for around an hour and no bus was allowed to enter. However, the buses already there were allowed to leave. The General Hospital in Sector 6 functioned as usual but people had difficulty reaching there. Two petrol pumps near the venue were kept closed during the event.
Thousands of police personnel from Haryana and Chandigarh were deployed to manage traffic and security. Many security personnel were present on rooftops of buildings to keep a watch on the venue.
Panchkula DCP Rahul Sharma said that the event was managed smoothly and there were no hurdles, nor any untoward incident.