If crossing the toll plaza on Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway during the morning and evening rush hours was a task,the nightmare begins,well,after the sun goes down and Delhi opens its borders for heavy vehicles.
After 10 pm,commuters have to jostle for road space with trucks and multi-wheel trailers,usually loaded to capacity. The bigger vehicles,says commuters,ditch the keep-to-left-lane rule and block most of the cash lanes at the toll plaza,leaving smaller vehicles no option but to wait their turn.
And the wait often stretches to half an hour or more,as the queue of vehicles crosses the 300-metre red mark.
Parimal Bardhan,member of DLF RWA who regularly travels to the airport via the expressway,says: I have noticed many trucks late night parked right ahead of the the toll road,which is a no-parking zone. Sometimes they block area equivalent to two main lanes of the expressway. Not just that,the trucks are supposed to keep to the left of the road,but the trucks occupy most of the toll cash lanes. It takes 20 to 30 minutes or more of waiting time.
The Delhi Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited (DGSCL),the concessionaire for the expressway,closes the six split toll canopies put up on either side of the toll plaza to reduce traffic congestion after 10 pm.
A toll operator reasoned that since the lanes are small,a speeding truck could run over the canopies.
And the rule that the toll gates are supposed to open to allow free traffic movement in case vehicle queue exceeds the 300-metre red mark,does not apply at night.
Attar Singh Sandhu,general secretary of Toll Hatao Samiti,says: As far as the parking of trucks at no-parking zone is concerned,it is the responsibility of Gurgaon traffic police and regulation of trucks on toll lanes is to be monitored by the concessionaire.
Sandhu claims that there have been more than 400 accidents in the past four years on the road. The daily toll collection is Rs 18 crore,of which 50 per cent goes to NHAI (National Highways Authority of India). There seems to be an erosion of responsibility, he says.
DGSCL claimed it was doing its bit control traffic jams and passed on the responsibility to the traffic police.
Chief Executive Officer of DGSCL Manoj Aggarwal says: The trucks have been regulated from our side at the toll lanes. The Gurgaon traffic police is responsible for taking action against crowding and stopping of the trucks at the no-parking zone.
The NHAI,which had earlier directed that the contract with DGSCL be terminated,also blamed the traffic police for the jams.
K V Singh,Deputy General Manager of NHAI,says: I am not aware of the issue of trucks causing nuisance at the toll expressway,but if it the case,it is the problem of the Haryana government and the Gurgaon police to solve. Also,there is a clear order by the Punjab and Haryana High Court that police have to act and regulate traffic and monitor the situation in case the jam crosses the 300-m mark.
About the termination of contract,Singh refused comment saying the matter is sub judice as the concessionaire has filed a petition in the Delhi High Court.
The Gurgaon traffic police hit the ball back in DGSCL court.
The newly appointed DCP (Traffic) Bharti Arora says: Regulation of trucks on toll lanes and controlling the jams caused by trucks on toll lanes is the responsibility of the concessionaire.
Asked specifically about trucks being parked in no-parking zone,the DCP promised to check on the status and take action in case the problem existed.
A letter sent by Toll Hatao Samiti to Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and NHAI,president of Gurgaon Citizens Council R S Rathee says: There are innumerable issues related to the toll expressway. The 2002 NHAI-concessionaire contract mentioned a lot,but little has been done. The main issue of contention is the toll plazas (Sirhaul and Kherki Daula) being within the municipal limits is illegal according to the guidelines set by the Central government. As far as the traffic caused by truck jams is concerned,it is the responsibility of the police.