Arterial roads in the national capital region (NCR) reeled under severe traffic snarls throughout Monday with the onset of the annual kanwar yatra through Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida tri-city area. Slow traffic and long jams — some as long as four hours — were reported at several key intersections and junctions, including the Gurgaon Expressway, the Delhi Noida Direct (DND) toll road and National Highway (NH) 24. The NH 58 has been shut for vehicular traffic.
Areas such as Ambience Mall, Signature Tower, IFFCO Chowk, Rajeev Chowk, Hero Honda Chowk were the worst hit on NH 8.
The last three days of the kanwar celebration this month is expected to see peak footfall in the NCR. As a result, traffic and local police have made major arrangements for round-the-clock deployment of personnel to facilitate smooth passage of the procession and cause the least possible interruption to the city’s functioning.
Delhi Traffic police said the expected footfall during this year’s processions, especially from Uttar Pradesh to Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, is estimated to be at least three lakh. The peak footfall is expected on the last three days of the week-long celebrations that ends on Wednesday.
In Ghaziabad — which sees the most processions — police have deployed drones for aerial photography, crowd assessment and traffic bottle-necks, while traffic police in Delhi and Gurgaon pressed extra personnel into service for to manage traffic on Monday.
However, devotees have complained of lack of police presence on the roads. Shivraj, a kanwar staying at the Dhaula Kuan camp, alleged, “When we begin our daily journey around 4 am every morning, there are no police personnel deployed. But there are many heavy vehicles on the roads at this time. During the day too, there are very few traffic personnel to help us. We maintain discipline and try to cross as carefully as possible. But there are many who do not take precautions and that increases the risk of accidents.”
At least 200 traffic police constables and 120 homeguards were deployed along the kanwar route. Ghaziabad Police has also deployed drones to keep a tab on the procession and to ensure a smooth flow of traffic. Police said the drones will be monitored from Modi Nagar, Murad Nagar and Sahibabad police stations. “The drones don’t have a larger use, but it is useful for aerial photography and crowd re-assessment,” said Ghaziabad SSP Dharmendra Singh.The administration has also ordered that all government schools and other educational institutes be shut for three days from August 10-12, according to the order of district magistrate Vimal Kumar Sharma.
Meanwhile in Noida, police issued an advisory for traffic diversions. All heavy vehicles coming from Delhi-Badarpur border via Kalindi Kunj will be diverted to Greater Noida Expressway. Vehicles entering Noida from the DND will also be diverted to the Expressway.
Traffic police deployed 1,000 personnel to manage traffic along the eight routes the processions are taking across the city. Police have also listed the 116 approved sites for kanwar camps in Delhi. These camps have been set up by private bodies for devotees to rest during their journey from Haridwar to their respective destinations. Traffic Police has also drawn up a list of major traffic points to be manned by police.
“The kanwars travel on foot, on two-wheelers, on trucks and other modes of transport. We have portioned off a lane for them. The space crunch will slow down traffic but not bring it to a stop… Also, all Kanwars violating traffic laws will be prosecuted,” said Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander.
The Gurgaon police has deployed over 600 personnel to monitor the movement of kanwars, who are stationed in the city in 33 camps alongside the service roads. Personnel have been called in especially from Haryana Police Academy, to ensure smooth movement of the procession. According to a revised traffic plan, the devotees would be allowed to move in large batches only.
“There was a rise in the number of devotees who crossed the city on Monday. They brought in tableaus and danced on the road which affected traffic movement on the highway,” said ACP (Traffic-Highway and East) Hawa Singh.