An ongoing auto strike, road blocks put in place for smooth passage of Kanwariyas (pilgrims) and a forecast of heavy rain could make commuting in Delhi-NCR a nightmare on Thursday.
Wednesday was no better. Traffic crawled and people spent hours on waterlogged roads as heavy showers lashed the Capital for the second day.
Public transport took a hit with autorickshaw and taxi unions continuing their indefinite stir in demand of a ban on app-based taxi services — which added to commuters’ woes by indulging in surge pricing as the demand for cabs shot up.
The Delhi government met representatives from 17 of the 20-odd striking auto unions and said it had persuaded them to call off the stir. But the claim was rejected by the Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union.
The Capital has 85,000 autos and the striking taxi unions account for around 20,000 cabs. Some autos and taxis were plying on the sly but the strike was near total.
“I waited half an hour for an auto and when I finally got one, it demanded Rs 100 for a 4km ride. I had no option but to pay up as I was getting late for work,” Ankita Khanna said of her commute from Jangpura to East of Kailash.
Sunil Nair complained that taxi aggregators were taking advantage of the situation. “Cab aggregator services have started to charge more than usual again. Finding a cab is already difficult but getting an affordable ride is even tougher.”
He ended up paying Rs 375 from Saket to Connaught Place, a trip that costs him Rs 200 on a normal day.
Adding to the mess, diversions and restrictions on many arterial roads, especially in east Delhi and the NCR towns of Gurgaon and Ghaziabad, will remain in place till August 1 due to the march of the Kanwariyas.
Roadside camps for the Shiva devotees — journeying to Uttarakhand and Bihar to fetch water from the Ganga — contributed to snarls. The trouble spots included national highways 8 and 24, Rani Jhansi Road, Azad Market Chowk, Khajuri Chowk and Mathura Road.
“We have made arrangements to segregate the movement of Kanwariyas and other road users and to minimise inconvenience to both. The devotees and commuters are advised to follow traffic rules. Violaters will face on-the-spot prosecution,” said joint commissioner of police (traffic) Garima Bhatnagar.
On the weather front, the Met department predicted heavy rain for the next two days. Civic authorities received complaints of waterlogging from over 50 locations in the city — including Mathura Road, Moolchand flyover, Aurobindo Marg and Okhla Mandi.