In a welcome change, it was smooth sailing for vehicles on the Gurgaon stretch of the expressway on Wednesday, a day after the Punjab and Haryana High Court restrained the operator from collecting toll tax for 15 days.
However, the move had a cascading effect on Delhi's Dhaula Kuan and adjoining areas with the sudden rush of vehicles from Gurgaon in the evening.
Hundreds of commuters were stuck in massive jams at Rajokri flyover, Mahipalpur Crossing, Rao Tula Ram Crossing and Parade Road in Delhi. Most of those stranded were office-goers returning home to Delhi.
Though the traffic situation was mostly smooth through the day, there was a sudden pile-up after 9pm and the queue of vehicles went up to the toll plaza. Commuters driving down to the airport and Dwarka were also caught in long snarls.
“The volume of traffic entering Delhi was huge and it became difficult for us to manage. Thanks to toll-free and non-stop movement, traffic rushed in from Gurgaon and triggered a jam in Delhi,” said a traffic policeman on condition of anonymity.
“I am a daily commuter but I have never seen such slow traffic on this route,” said a resident of Subroto Park.
Confusion at night
Gurgaon commuters were caught unawares at the toll plaza on Tuesday midnight when the boom barriers at the toll plaza near Ambience Mall went up for non-stop flow of traffic. Motorists were pleasantly surprised to see absence of the usual long queues on Wednesday morning as well.
Timpreet Singh, a BPO executive who was driving down to Delhi from Gurgaon reached the toll plaza at 12.20am but was shocked to see the expressway staff missing. On being informed about the court order by the HT reporter, he said, “I am glad that I don't have to wait but the relief is for only 15 days. Authorities should find a permanent solution to this.”
Commuters, however, rued that there were no signboards or proper guidance by the expressway staff or traffic police.
“Additional staff will be deployed if needed,” said Bharti Arora, DCP (traffic), who visited the site along with Huda administrator Praveen Kumar in the morning. “As per the directives of the high court, all the toll gates at the Delhi-Gurgaon border toll plaza have been opened since Tuesday midnight. The boom barriers in all lanes were removed and posters mentioning ‘Free’ were put up so that commuters were aware that the toll gates were open and that they did not need to pay toll.
Traffic around the toll plaza was being managed by the police and our marshals were also deployed all along the expressway. The traffic lights in the lanes which were initially set to red for safety were deactivated well before the peak hours,” said a DGSCL spokesperson. Since it was free movement at the toll plaza, there was a rush of Gurgaon-bound traffic at Shankar Chowk from where thousands of office-goers take a diversion towards Cyber City.
The barricades at Shankar Chowk were removed for a couple of hours to ease the chaos.