The Commonwealth Games are expected to leave behind a legacy of world class sporting facilities and city infrastructure. But right now, they are only leaving behind unending traffic snarls on the roads of Delhi and NCR.
If the trial runs of Games lanes in Delhi and NCR this week are anything to go by, the first fortnight of October is going to be a hell on roads for motorists. The message is clear - for the next one month, try not to get married, don't visit family and friends, do not shift or renovate your house and if possible, don't fall sick. In other words, either stay home during the Games or if possible, go on a long vacation.
On Thursday, the lane trials in Delhi lasted only a few hours but ended up causing massive jams near Ashram, Nizamuddin and Sarai Kale Khan.
And it's only going to get worse. Starting next week, the Delhi Traffic Police plans to test the patience of Delhiites during traffic peak hours — the worst time to drive around the city even on a 'normal' day. In Noida, the expressway will be blocked for four hours in the morning from September 23 to observe the behavioural patterns of motorists.
Of the 450 sq km of arterial road space in Delhi, 105 sq km will be dedicated for the delegates and athletes during the Games. VIPs also, will be able to use the dedicated corridors. For the common man, commuting in Delhi will be a test of patience.
Several arterial roads — mainly in South and Central Delhi — that witness huge traffic movement at any given time, will have one lane less for almost the same volume of traffic.
"People should leave personal vehicles at home and use public transport as much as possible," said Ajay Chadha, Special CP (Traffic), Delhi Police. "There is a penalty of Rs. 2,000 for driving on the Games lane and we will have a 100-member special task force to ensure lane discipline," he said.
There will be restrictions on traffic movement near the venues too. Personal vehicles, auto rickshaws and taxis will not be allowed near the venues. The restrictions, however, will vary from venue to venue depending on how heavy the traffic flow is.
Delhi Traffic police are yet to find out a real solution to a divine trouble that is likely to take place during the Commonwealth Games.
The Games closing ceremony falls on a Thursday, when over one lakh devotees converge at the Sai Memorial Temple, just a few metres away from the JLN stadium venue. Though the temple authorities have made some arrangements to reduce the chaos, the traffic department are not convinced. "We will make arrangements to accommodate lakhs of devotees in two newly built halls on the temple premises so that roads don't get blocked ," said Sonu, in-charge of volunteers of Sai temple.
Though devotees will enter the temple through the back gate instead of the main gate, the traffic policemen said they have been unable to find a parking lot for devotees' vehicles.
Pragati Vihar Residential Complex (PVRC) residents were worried about traffic restrictions as their complex is just a stone throw away from the most important Games venue — the JLN stadium. But they can breathe easy now. The Delhi Traffic Police has decided to issue transit passes to them. "Though this arrangement will not let us move as freely as we do now, we appreciate the traffic police's initiative. At least our mobility will not be restricted completed," said Rakhi Singh, a resident of PVRC.
Offices in CGO Complex and Pragati Vihar Residential Complex at Lodhi Road (close to JLN Stadium) and Delhi Secretariat at IP Estate (adjacent to Indira Gandhi Sports Complex) will be the worst affected and only select vehicles with special passes will get access.
Travelling between East and Central Delhi during peak hours is no easy task and Sanjeev Bhasin, a resident of Vivek Vihar in East Delhi, is used to traffic snarls. The going, however, has been tougher since last few days thanks to the lane trials.
"I usually take the Nizamuddin bridge instead of Vikas Marg to reach my shop in Janpath every day to avoid jams," he said. "But if the trials are anything to go by, this route too will be a mess."
Traffic snarls are not the only thing Bhasin is worried about. During the Games, there will be restrictions on the movement of goods vehicle. Bhasin says this may affect the renovation work going on at his house, which is next to Yamuna Sports Complex. "Trucks with construction material won't be able to come to my house as it is next to a Games venue," he said.
Frequently Asked Questions
During Games, venture out only after reading this
How much space on roads will be reserved for the Games lane?
One lane; 3.25 to 3.50 metre wide.
Will the Games lane be restricted for normal traffic 24X7 during the 12-day event?
Only during movement of athletes and VIPs on most stretches.
What is penalty for entering the Games lane?
Rs 2,000; impounding of vehicle.
Will there be widespread traffic diversions in the city during the Games?
Diversion will be for goods vehicles between Wazirabad Bridge and DND Flyover. Movement will be restricted.
Will the roads near the Games venue be completely off limits?
Only roads near JLN Stadium and that too on opening and closing days.
Will autos or radio cabs be allowed near the venues?
Yes, but they won't be allowed to stop near the entry and exit points of the venues.
The Games lane changes directions at many places, how do I keep track?
There will be traffic personnel and signages to guide you.
What if my car breaks down on a restricted road?
Delhi Traffic Police will keep 20 cranes handy to tow your car to an open space where you can call a mechanic.
I live in the NCR. Will I be able to come to Delhi during the Games?
Police will check private vehicles at the entry points to Delhi. Trucks and goods carriers not bound for Delhi won't be allowed.
What if I need to go to a hospital?
Call an ambulance. Ambulances and fire tenders will not be stopped.
If I am taking a patient in my car, will I be allowed to drive on the reserved lane?
Traffic personnel at the spot will check the vehicle, the patient's condition, then decide.
My wedding is during the Games. Will my guests be able to reach the venue?
We suggest you reschedule your marriage.
I have to shift houses during the Games. Will the goods vehicle with my furniture be allowed on the road?
Delhi Traffic Police will give permission on case-to-case basis.
My office is near a venue. Will I get a transit pass?
Only official cars will get entry passes, not private cars of officials.
I live near a venue, will I be allowed to move in and out of my house in a car?
Pragati Vihar Residential Complex near JLN Stadium is the sole residential area near a venue. No residents allowed during VIP movement.
Will my friends and relatives be allowed to visit me?
Though entry will be through rear side Pragati Vihar Complex, there will be some restrictions during events and VIP movements.