Chaos reigned supreme on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway on Saturday as vehicles jostled for space on either sides of the 32-lane Delhi border toll plaza — which was made 53-lane on Friday — indicating that crossing the stretch is going to be a nightmare for commuters on Monday.
The situation was aggravated by non-tag users who entered the tag lanes. The absence of police personnel compounded the woes of commuters. This despite the Punjab and Haryana high court directing the Haryana government to challan violators entering the tag lanes. The toll operation resumed around 7pm on Friday and saw a huge pile-up of vehicles within minutes."I was stuck in the jam for over 35 minutes. The toll plaza was crowded with vehicles," said SK Verma, who was returning to Gurgaon from Delhi.
Terrorised by the experience of Friday night, many commuters have decided to avoid the troubled stretch in non-peak hours when toll will be charged. Instead, they plan to take the route between 8.30am and 10am and between 5.30pm and 7pm when no toll would be charged on private vehicles, as per the court’s directions, till October 3.
Gurgaon-based Jagdish Khatkar, CEO of a software firm, said, "I don’t mind paying the toll charge of Rs. 21 but after a 24-day smooth ride, things are back to square one."
Though Saturday was a lean day, things were no different.
"On Saturday, there were no signs denoting the lanes for tag and non-tag users coming from Delhi. The absence of traffic personnel added to our woes," said Somesh Narang, a commuter.On September 4, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had slapped a blanket ban on toll collection, allowing free passage to commuters. The 24-day directive resulted in a loss of Rs. 10 crore to the concessionaire firm. To tide over the problem, high-level meetings were held between the stakeholders — National Highway Authority of India, Haryana government and the Delhi-Gurgaon Super Connectivity Ltd. Though a series of measures such as 21 extra toll lanes at three newly set-up split toll plazas and canopies, separate colouring of tags and cash lanes and reversible lanes were taken, they failed to decongest the toll plaza.
"We've asked the Gurgaon police to deploy their personnel and fine cash users entering the tag lanes. Things went out of control on Friday as commuters were not aware about the court order regarding resumption of toll collection," said a spokesperson of DGSCL.
"Commuters began arguing with toll collection agents and many refused to pay the toll. An estimated 15,000 vehicles which were supposed to be using the Udyog Vihar toll plaza and skipping the main toll plaza did
not do so. These vehicles converged on the main toll plaza causing jams. Monday will not be the same," the spokesperson added.
Gurgaon police said more men would be deployed on Monday. "We will penalise cash users entering tag lanes," said Maheshwar Dayal, DCP (east).