The Arvind Kejriwal government’s signature road rationing formula to reduce air pollution and ease traffic flow struggled to beat the odds on an even day, the first after an extended weekend, as chaos ruled the roads.
Vehicles crawled, commuters got stuck in long snarls, taxis overcharged, autos refused, and government buses broke down as offices and schools reopened in the national capital on Monday. Road repairs and demolition of the bus rapid transit (BRT) corridor added to the bedlam.
Cars laboured to inch forward on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway as traffic police set up pickets to stop and fine holidaymakers breaking the odd-even rule on their way home after a four-day vacation.
“Several challans were issued at the border … the entry points had the maximum number of policemen,” a senior traffic officer said.
The checkposts at Sirhaul and MG Road slowed down traffic.
Traffic police challaned or fined 710 offenders during the day, including BJP parliamentarian Vijay Goel who voluntarily broke the rule to protest the Delhi government “wasting taxpayers’ money” on a massive advertisement campaign for the odd-even scheme. He paid Rs 3,500 in total — Rs 2,000 for breaking the odd-even rule, Rs 1,000 for driving without a car insurance and Rs 500 for not carrying a driving licence.
“Vijay Goelji was driving without a licence. This is a very dangerous thing,” Kejriwal said.
Tempers ran high in packed state buses, as did the mercury that rose to 40.2° Celsius, testing the AAP government’s round two of the odd-even scheme, which started on April 15 for a fortnight.
A traffic police official said 15 buses of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) broke down across the city, counteracting the benefits of pressing additional buses to augment the Capital’s inadequate public transport system.
Delhi government has a fleet of 4,705 DTC buses and 1,500 private buses while 680 additional buses were deployed during the odd-even period.
“Most breakdowns were reported from south Delhi. Four buses broke down in the cantonment area alone, slowing traffic movement along that stretch. These buses can be removed only by specialised cranes. So snarls continued till a crane arrived and towed away the bus,” a traffic officer said.
Jams choked arterial stretches such as Akshardham, South Extension, Bhairon Marg, Azadpur, ITO (towards Vikas Marg), India Gate, Dhaula Kuan, Patel Nagar, Punjabi Bag, Delhi-Gurgaon Road, and the Ashram intersection in the morning rush hours.
Road diversions in south Delhi’s Moolchand and Lajpat Nagar because of the BRT demolition work created long snarls too. “The whole excitement of jam-free rides because of the odd-even rule vanished today,” said Sahil Sinha, a businessman in west Delhi’s Janakpuri.
The overburdened Delhi Metro bore the additional burden of over 100,000 more passengers than it carried last Monday, when it recorded a ridership of 22,53,000.
Queues at Metro stations, especially Kashmere Gate, Rajiv Chowk, Yamuna Bank, and Anand Vihar, ran from entry gates to the roads outside. “I stood 20 minutes to reach the ticket counter. There was no space inside the train,” said Madhusudhan Ram, who works in Noida Sector-18.