In a near repeat of traffic snarls around the city last year, 2019 in Delhi started with people thronging to areas such as India Gate, Connaught Place and the Delhi Zoo — leading to jams in and around central Delhi on Tuesday afternoon.
According to zoo officials, they saw 37,800 visitors on Tuesday — the highest ever. The previous record was set on January 1 last year with 34,350 people visiting the zoo. On an average, around 16,000 people visit the zoo daily in winters, officials said. Last year, traffic had come to a grinding halt in central Delhi on New Year, with several people getting stuck for two to three hours. To avoid a repeat, the Delhi Traffic Police had chalked out a plan this year.
As soon as the number of people coming to central Delhi became unviable, police closed off roads leading to the zoo, India Gate and Connaught Place. “Pedestrian traffic started increasing post noon. At India Gate, there were close to 1 lakh people. After last year, we had increased deployment in areas such as Connaught Place, Mathura Road, Ashoka Road and Kashmere Gate. Several diversions for vehicles were planned in advance. In the end, we only had to use a few diversions at Mathura Road, Connaught Place and around ISBT Kashmere Gate,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Alok Kumar.
Apart from revellers gathering at Connaught Place and India Gate, several people also visited temples across the city. “There was high pedestrian movement near the Hanuman temples near ISBT Kashmere Gate and Connaught Place, as devotees gathered outside during the day. The situation was similar at Kalkaji Temple, Birla Mandir, Gurdwara Bangla Sahib and Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib,” officials said.
The exits to four metro stations, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhavan, Mandi House and Pragati Maidan, were closed in the afternoon as the crowds swelled. The exists were opened finally at around 7.30 pm, a DMRC official said.
Buses going towards India Gate were also diverted. “We encouraged people to leave their personal vehicles behind and take the Metro, but we had to shut the exits as the crowd increased. Every place has a limit to the number of people it can accommodate, even if there are no cars,” Kumar said. Police, meanwhile, issued 509 challans on the New Year’s Eve for drink-driving as compared to 765 issued last year.