Private vehicles plying on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway will continue to enjoy a free ride during peak hours (8.30am to 10am and 5.30pm to 7pm) as the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday ordered to maintain the status quo.
In another significant development, the court directed the police to prohibit vehicles from taking a u-turn while going to Delhi from Gurgaon just before the toll plaza, near Ambience Mall, during peak hours (8am to 11 am and 5pm to 8pm) till Monday when the case comes up for hearing again.
“The court has not given any time frame for closure of the U-turn,” said a Gurgaon police official.
The bench also took note of a plea by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) claiming that an underpass or flyover close to Ambience Mall was the best solution for vehicles wanting to take a U-turn. According to the agreement signed between NHAI and other stakeholders on September 19 this year, the Ambience Mall developers, expressway operator and DLF have to construct an underpass or flyover.
The division bench also took strong note of the increasing traffic volume. When the expressway began operations in 2008, 125 vehicles crossed the toll plaza per hour.
The number has now gone up to 500 vehicles per hour per gate. That amounts to 16,000 vehicles per hour on 32 lanes and subsequently 3.84 lakh vehicles in 24 hours, as claimed by NHAI.
“How do you manage such huge flux of vehicles? This would be amounting to huge traffic jams at the toll plaza,” the bench asked the expressway concessionaire, Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Limited (DGSCL), and the police.
Gurgaon policemen clueless
The Gurgaon traffic police, however, were completely clueless that the U-turn near Ambience Mall had to be blocked from Wednesday evening onwards. Commuters were seen freely taking the U-turn near the mall between 5pm to 8 pm despite the court order.
When HT contacted senior traffic police officials, they were not sure about when to implement the court order. “We are going to implement the order today onwards,” said Ravinder Tomer, ACP (traffic), Gurgaon.
But HT found no such provisions at the spot.
A traffic police official, on the condition of anonymity, said, “We have not received any information about the court verdict. There will be a meeting of traffic officials to implement the court order.”
Earlier on September 12, NHAI, Haryana government and DGSCL had discussed various measures to ease traffic chaos at the toll plaza including penalising trespassers entering the tag lanes, implementation of touch-and-go smart cards, closure of the U-turn near Ambience Mall and 3-4 dedicated lanes for vehicles entering Udyog Vihar from Delhi.
(With inputs from Sunil Thapliyal)