The severe restriction on traffic movement around India Gate for over four hours on Thursday to ensure an incident-free Olympic torch relay run was followed by major traffic chaos in New Delhi, central and south Delhi areas till late in the night.
The problem was compounded with the entry of piled up vehicles, especially commercial vehicles, from neighbouring states that had to stay put at the borders following a ban on their entry during restriction hours.
Roads on the periphery of restricted area — Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Mother Teresa Crescent, Safdarjung Road, Subramanyam Bharti Marg, Mathura Road, Ring Road stretch from Ashram to Rajghat, Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg and roads leading to these roads — were the most affected stretches. The cascading effect was felt on certain other roads like Shanti Path, Kautilya Marg, Sardar Patel Marg and others.
Roads that were used as corridors to go from south to north or vice versa — like Mathura Road — saw congestion and jams soon after restrictions were in force at 2 pm. In the evening, a bus broke down on Park Street, leading to a heavy pile up.
Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) S.N. Shrivastava said the situation was not as bad as they had anticipated. "We had expected a more severe congestion ."
Earlier, strict enforcement to traffic ban by traffic police ensured several roads in New Delhi and Connaught Place area wore a deserted look. Traffic cops were seen at every junction directing people to use alternative routes.
The strict restrictions, however, meant added problems. Despite police advisory asking people to plan journey in advance, several people were clueless about roads closed and those open for traffic. As a result, hundreds of people walked several kilometers to reach their destination.
Said Amrita Singh, a PR professional, "Buses were terminated at far away points. No auto-driver was ready to take a detour fearing a jam on alternative roads. I walked all the way from Lodhi Road to my office at CP."
C.H. Prakash, who walked from Jhandewalan to New Delhi Railway station said, "I was aware there are going to be restriction on vehicular movement. But this was way too bad. There were no vehicles even on the roads that were not closed."