As the mercury shot past 40 degrees for the second straight day, the BRT corridor saw its worst traffic jams yet, tying vehicles down for up to 45 minutes at a single signal, and triggering ripples that choked all colony streets on either side of the blocked artery.
Seventy-two hours from the Delhi government’s deadline to fix the chaos or face scrapping of the project, operators of the disastrously conceived idea all but threw up their hands, saying they had underestimated the volume of traffic, and had no magic wand to make it vanish.
A few kilometres away in Lutyens’s Delhi, lawmakers from the left and right were united in a rare jugalbandi as echoes of public fury rang in Parliament for the second day running. In the Lok Sabha, BJP’s VK Malhotra, backed by CPM’s Mohammed Salim, demanded prosecution of those behind the project.
Traffic jams on the corridor were more severe than those seen on Monday and Tuesday. It took Hindustan Times 45 minutes to get past the Chirag Dilli intersection, and only a little less to go past the Archana crossing.
Top officials of DIMTS, the executing agency, told HT anonymously that they had no idea of what they could do to turn things around by the weekend, when their deadline to shape up or ship out runs out.
“We are looking for measures to handle such a massive volume of traffic. We have stopped the movement of light commercial vehicles during peak hours,” Transport Commissioner RK Verma said. “Wherever essential, we are redesigning the intersections for smooth flow of vehicles.”
DIMTS chief SN Sahai said: “Chirag Dilli is the main problem... We are widening the road at Chirag Dilli by taking over some ‘dead space’.”
Sahai admitted, however, that these moves would not make a dramatic difference. “The volume of traffic is just huge. However, discipline is setting in, and the system now needs some time to stabilise,” he said.
For commuters trapped under a merciless sun and, in some cases, in oven-like vehicles, this was no consolation.
“It took me an hour and a half in the afternoon to reach Panchsheel Enclave from Moolchand. I am not taking this road again,” said management consultant Anil Advani.