A part of the national highway network, the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway boasts of one of the smoothest driving surfaces in the country. When not congested — though it is a rarity — a drive on the main carriageway could be a global experience. But even on an otherwise-perfect day, there still is one daunting deterrent: Stray animals.
The expressway is surrounded by villages, with the residential parts on one side of the highway and the grazing fields and farms on the other. There is no other route except the highway for the cattle to move to the fields and some of them tend to stray from their course while crossing it.
“Once a big bull and a cow came running suddenly on the road and I applied the brakes instantly. It was just a fraction of second which saved me from a major accident. Since then there is always a hidden fear working while driving on the highway,” said Shashi Kadam, an accountant who is a resident of Mayfield Gardens.
There are many others like Kadam who have to put up with such problems every morning. “Traffic jams happen because of the failure of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon in removing these animals from the roads. But apart from that, it is also important to keep a check on the villagers who let their animals roam freely on the roads, adding to the woes of commuters,” said Rajiv Puri, a daily commuter.
Another fellow sufferer said, “A group of cows were sitting in the middle of the road and blocking it totally; I was running late for my office that day. Worse, nobody had the energy to get down from their vehicles and move the animals from the road.”
Bharti Arora, joint commissioner of police (traffic), said, “Although we try to keep cattle away from the highway, this is a regular problem as Gurgaon is surrounded by villages. Many people fall victims to accidents caused by animals which come right in the middle of the road.” The villagers, however, have their own version of this typical story. They say the crossing is also a big risk for them as speeding vehicles sometime hit many of the animals.
Interestingly, the migrant problem which apparently plagues the National Capital Region leaves its mark here as well. The nomadic communities from Rajasthan, who trek to Haryana and other neighboring states during the summer, begin their journey back to their native land with the onset of the monsoon. These nomadic people generally own 200 to 300 cows, oxen, calves and donkeys. With so many animals moving along the highway, the traffic gets stalled for more than an hour at times.