As per a Punjab and Haryana high court order of September last, it is mandatory to raise the boom barriers at Sirhaul toll plaza on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway once the traffic pile-up there goes beyond 400 metres.
To ensure this, the 400-metre mark has been painted red on the road on each side of the Sirhaul toll plaza.
This is one of several experiments initiated last year after the traffic situation went out of hands at the toll plaza.
Other experiments included making the toll plaza free for 15 days and creating extra toll booths in the form of split tolls.
But, despite everything, the traffic bottlenecks at the toll plaza still continue to agonise commuters.
While the 15-day free period has long been over and the split tolls are working — these have proved to be somewhat of a damp squib — motorists often complain that despite court orders the boom barriers are not raised when the pile-up gets as long as 400 metres, an allegation denied by the toll operator and expressway concessionaire Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited (DGSCL).
“I have no clue if they ever raise the toll boom barriers as I have been stuck in queues which have extended the 400-metre mark,” said Karuna Singh, a regular commuter on the expressway, which is a part of National Highway-8.
A spokesperson of the Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited, however, said that the red line is very much there and whenever it is breached, the traffic police ensure that the boom barriers are raised and commuters get a free passage across the toll plaza.
“Our personnel are always on alert, especially during the peak morning and evening hours and they raise the boom barriers when the pile-up touches the red mark,” said Bharti Arora, deputy commissioner of police, traffic, Gurgaon.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in its order last year, had mandated the Gurgaon traffic cops stationed at the toll plaza to open the boom barriers if the congestion breached the 400-metre red mark.
“That doesn’t absolve the operator from its responsibility of ensuring a free passage when required,” said Amberdeep Singh, another regular commuter on the expressway.
Toll staff inconsistent in lifting boom barriers: Sanjay Gupta, west Delhi resident
I have to drive down to Gurgaon from my west Delhi residence 2-3 times a week. It takes me about 45 minutes to reach Sirhaul toll plaza on the Delhi-Gurgaon expressway. However, quite a few times, it took me 30 to 40 minutes to cross the toll plaza, especially during the morning peak hours.
In the mornings, the traffic congestion is on the Delhi side and during the evening it is on the Gurgaon side, and you can witness the situation going out of control. You can’t do anything but helplessly wait for your ordeal to get over. The pile-ups, like on last Thursday, stretch for more than a kilometre.
I got stuck on the Rajokri flyover and had to drive continuously for about 40 minutes to be able to cross the toll. Since I use a smart tag to pay the toll, I couldn’t figure out if the expressway operator had raised the boom barriers as required once the traffic pile-up crosses the 400-metre mark.
There are two points I want to highlight here.
First, nobody knows who is responsible for implementing the court order of opening the toll barriers in case the pile-up crosses the 400-metre mark. The motorists who wait in the long queues cannot figure that out and they just want to come out of the hell somehow.
Second, it’s not just about the extra time that one loses waiting at the toll but the unpredictability of the jams makes it even more agonising.
One never knows what traffic situation he/she is going to face on reaching the toll plaza. I thank my stars sometimes when I get through the toll plaza within five minutes, but this never happens during the morning and evening rush hours.
E-way official version
“In order to improve the traffic flow at the Sirhaul toll plaza, the Honb’le Punjab & Haryana high court had directed that a red line be drawn on the ground at a distance of 400 metres from the toll gates on either side.
Whenever the traffic was congested and exceeded the red line, the traffic police was directed to lift the boom barriers to ease the flow. We have followed the directives of the high court and the red line was painted on the ground in September.
Cameras have also been installed at that point so that the control room can see whenever the red line is breached and we open the boom barriers accordingly.
The Gurgaon traffic police are also present at the toll plaza and near the red lines. Whenever the length of stationary traffic exceeds the red line, they lift the boom barriers to ensure that the traffic flow is eased.”