Everyone who reached the Ramlila Maidan to be part of Anna Hazare’s agitation by the Metro on Saturday was expecting chaos only after they got out of the station.
But the New Delhi Metro station provided enough drama inside. Due to the high passenger load, the Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) Gates started malfunctioning causing huge delays and serpentine queues.
“The gates have stopped working. They are just not accepting tokens and the lines are becoming longer,” said a Metro official posted at the station. New Delhi Metro station is among the stations that records high footfall everyday.
“The footfall on Saturday was around 40,000, 5000 more than normal for Saturdays,” said a Metro spokesperson.
Due to the heavy rush, Metro staff was forced to position a guard at the gates to collect tokens manually. While this arrangement worked for token holders, those with smart cards had to suffer.
“Since smart cards have to be checked out at the gates, there is no way to deal with the problem but to wait for the gates to respond,” said the official.
So, for the first time, smart card holders were fuming. “I feel stupid holding this card right. If I had a token I would have got out without any problem,” said Akhil Verma, a businessman, who had been standing in a queue for 20 minutes.
There are three functional AFC Gates at the Ramlila Maidan exit.
To ease the pressure, two additional token counters were set up and more guards were posted. Officials and volunteers were directing people towards the exit to Ramlila Maidan and announcements were being made. Other officials were making sure that the crowd does not become unruly and that token holders get out easily.