A new year dawned on the national capital on Sunday, bringing with it an unprecedented level of revelry that resulted in clogged roads and slow-moving traffic around central Delhi.
Thousands of people flocked to shopping malls and recreation establishments to celebrate the occasion, causing huge traffic jams. The situation was particularly bad around Connaught Place, India Gate, Khan Market and Defence Colony as multitudes overflowed onto the roads. Vehicles parked on the roadside made things worse.
Ram Sinha, a student of south Delhi’s Sanskriti School, described it as one of the worst instances of traffic congestion he had ever seen. “It was as if everybody with a car in the city was headed to central Delhi to celebrate the New Year. It took us two hours to go to the Delhi Zoo from ITO. There was an unending sea of cars in every direction,” he said.
The lawns of India Gate were also packed with people since afternoon, and the rush only increased by evening. “By 7 pm, all the parking lots here were filled with vehicles. It was so bad that people were finding it hard to take their cars out,” a traffic constable said.
Traffic officials said it was the first time crowds of such magnitude had descended on commercial and tourist spots ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the demonetisation announcement on November 8. “Crowds have generally been thin for the last one month. We were expecting a New Year rush, but not so much,” said a senior Delhi Traffic Police officer.
The traffic jams also spilled onto other parts of the city, including busy stretches such as Dhaula Kuan, Nizamuddin, Sardar Patel Marg, Rao Tula Ram Marg, Chirag Dilli, Rajouri Garden, Tilak Nagar and Naraina.
Anubhuti Mishra, a 43-year-old resident of CR Park, said she went to CP to have dinner with her family but returned because of the rush.
“It took us around an hour to reach CP, but when we did, we could not find any parking space. We drove around the place for a while, and then decided to call it day,” she added.