Get ready for more chaos in Mumbai during the Ganpati festival this year. Reason: A rise in the number of Ganesh pandals in the city and vehicles on the streets.
Mumbai got a sneak peak of what lies ahead on Tuesday. The severe traffic snarls may have been caused by the derailment of coaches at Vile Parle, but were made worse by the Ganpati preparations across the city.
According to the Mumbai traffic police department, 7,013 community Ganesh idols were immersed last year.
As per a mandal organisation in the city, which collects data on the pandals, this year, the number has risen to 11,000.
Motorists on Tuesday complained how pandals set up on the road are congesting the road further, causing bottlenecks that last for several hours. The traffic police struggled to maintain an easy flow of traffic on Tuesday, as western railway services collapsed.
Milind Bharambe, joint commissioner of police, traffic admitted the traffic situation worsened on Tuesday because of Ganesh preparations.
This year, the traffic department has devised a way to decrease peak-hour traffic by giving a set of specific instructions to Ganesh idol sculptors.
“The sculptors have been asked to avoid delivering the idols during peak hours. This is likely to decrease the congestion,” a source in the traffic department told Hindustan Times.
Traffic experts said one issue which is making the congestion problem difficult to deal with is motorists’ attitude. A motorist will not think twice before flouting a rule or changing lanes breaking the otherwise smooth flow.
“The bikers are another problem. The bikers feel they can break the rules and get away. Road discipline needs to be instilled in them to avoid this,” said PS Pasricha, former director general of police, Maharashtra.
Pasricha said the traffic culture needs to be given top-most priority in the city and lectures should be conducted for autorickshaw and taxi drivers too.
“The department is educating children about road safety, but drivers should not be neglected. The traffic situation in this city is dynamic and the other agencies need to work in tandem with the traffic department by taking periodical reviews,” Pasricha said.
Ashok Datar, a transport expert said the number of private vehicles has increased on city roads and the travel time has gone up.
“Motorists are using private vehicles for longer distances now more than ever, which has a compounding effect on the traffic situation,” said Datar.
“The attitude of people driving on the roads is very ‘anti-city’ and the number of motorists flouting rules is scary. Unless there is discipline among drivers, the traffic flow will worsen during Ganesh festivals,” he said.