The commuters on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway should brace for chaos from Monday as pilgrims on the annual kanwar yatra will start reaching Gurgaon this weekend.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has dedicated a large part of the service lane for the kanwarias, marking the space with jersey barriers.
However, the highways authority has taken these barriers from the entry and exit points towards Jaipur. Though demarcating space on the service lane for kanwarias may be a good move, the removal of barriers has ensured that vehicles can enter or exit the highway from anywhere.
“Doing this can cause accidents, as slow moving vehicles are entering the high speed road from points that are meant for exits,” Amjad, a commuter who was caught up in a jam at Iffco Chowk, said.
A highways authority official admitted that the service lanes of the Delhi–Gurgaon Expressway are already narrow, and dedicating a lane for the pilgrims will only slow down traffic.
This year, the annual Kanwar Yatra began on July 17, and Kanwarias from various parts of south Haryana and Rajasthan will pass through Gurgaon, carrying the holy water of Ganga from Haridwar. The holy water will be offered at local Shiva temples.
A road safety officer (RSO) working with the Gurgaon police said that the removal of barriers at entry/exit points could lead to congestion and accidents. “Civic agencies should pitch in and help in making better arrangements as this not only the traffic police’s job,” he said.
Last year, the entry of pilgrims led to chaos as they entered the city from MG Road, Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, old Delhi-Gurgaon road and even from Bijwasan. They mixed with traffic at crucial bottlenecks, leading to long snarls.
However, this year, the movement of kanwarias will be restricted to the expressway and Sohna road so that normal life in the city is not affected. However, snarls are likely on various other stretched towards Pataudi and Farrukhnagar.
Highway operator Skylark said that it will replace the jersey barriers at the entry/exit points with a thick rope to ensure that there are no traffic violations. “We are preparing the track to ensure the safety of yatris. For smooth movement of vehicles, marshals will be posted at critical points and ropes will fixed at entry/ exits,” Devender Chahar, AGM, Skylark, said.
The highway concessionaire MCEPL informed that it has designated four teams to ensure smooth movement of pilgrims and vehicles on the expressway. “Our men will be on the ground to prevent jams and to ensure smooth passage of Kanwarias. Patrol vehicles will keep taking rounds. We will also get footage from all area through CCTV cameras so that congestion does not happen,” S Raghuraman, CEO of MCEPL, said.