With several routes being shut owing to the Mantralaya fire, massive traffic snarls were witnessed in south and central Mumbai on Thursday.
The JJ flyover was shut for at least three hours in the evening leading to traffic blocks from Mohammed Ali road till Sion, traffic officials said.
“I had to take an autorickshaw from Chembur to get to Kurla railway station. The ride usually costs me Rs40. But on Thursday, I had to shell out around Rs. 200 as it took 1 hour to cover the distance,” said Prashant Motwani, 23, an advertising professional.
The Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking changed 11 bus routes in south Mumbai after the roads around Mantralaya were closed around 3pm. Buses starting from Mantralaya bus stand were diverted to Ahilyabai Holakar Chowk routes, while Backbay bus depot buses were diverted to Nathalal Parikh Road.
Nisar Tamboli, spokesperson of the city police, said, “We had deployed at least 1,500 to 2,000 policemen, both traffic and the local police, to manage the traffic. Initially, several jams were reported, but the traffic situation around the spot was brought under control soon after.”
Vivek Phansalkar, joint commissioner of police (traffic), said: “We diverted the traffic from Hutatma Chowk and Eros Cinema junction till Mantralaya and DN Road to make way for fire tenders.”
While the evacuation process and fire fighting was underway, over 300 policemen were stationed in the area. Soon, top officials including additional commissioners and joint commissioners reached the place to supervise the arrangements.
The commissioner of Mumbai Police, Arup Patnaik, also arrived at the spot to take stock of the situation around 5:45pm. To meet any exigency, a company of the commando unit and Force One was also stationed at the spot along with a squad of the Quick Response Team.