Less than three weeks after traffic went haywire in Chandigarh due to Prime Minister Narendra Modis’s visit on September 11, city residents were again at the receiving end on Wednesday when President Pranab Mukherjee’s cavalcade passed through busy intersections of the city.
Regular traffic came to a standstill at 2pm when the Presidents’ convoy passed through the airport light point, Hallomajra light point, Tribune chowk, Sectors 32, 33 and 20 roundabouts before reaching the governor’s house. The residents’ ordeal continued for around 40 minutes.
Around 1,200 policemen were deployed in the city to maintain traffic as well as take care of security of the VVIP guest. The cops started stopping traffic on the roads leading to the Tribune chowk around 1.30pm. Long queues of vehicles were seen as the cops didn’t allow the vehicles to cross the roundabout.
SAS Nagar resident Amrik Singh said the police stopped the vehicles at various traffic lights from the Sector 26 light point to Tribune chowk. He said the cops were managing the traffic manually even as the lights were working. This led to chaos, he added.
Chaos continued to rule the Tribune roundabout even after the President’s convoy passed as people drove their vehicles to the wrong side of the road from the slip roads. A DSP-rank official got annoyed and pulled up cops on duty.
Though senior officials claimed they did not put up barricades and did not make any traffic diversions, Lalit Kumar, a Sector 37 resident, said the authorities should have issued a traffic advisory to the residents.
Traffic chaos also prevailed in the evening when the president left for the airport. A police official, requesting anonymity, said: “A traffic halt of 10-15 minutes is not avoidable during a VVIP’s visit, especially during peak hours.”
Claiming that there was no traffic chaos on city roads today, deputy superintendent of police (DSP traffic) Rajeev Ambasta said: “We stopped the traffic on one side and vehicles were allowed on opposite roads.” The traffic moved at a smooth pace after the President’s convoy passed the intersection, he added.
Advisory by Union cabinet secretariat
Recently, the Union cabinet secretariat issued a general advisory to the states and union territories, including Chandigarh, on the visits of the Prime Minister and other dignitaries to. The advisory states that during such visits, no inconvenience should be caused to the public. A proper balance should be maintained between security and the convenience of the public.
Why this chaos?
A senior police official said they were supposed to mark four alternative roads keeping in view the President’s security. “So, we had to halt traffic on all selected routes,” he said. However, another official said the busiest route — from Tribune chowk to Sector 20 roundabout — was chosen for the President’s convoy. The police should have marked another route with less traffic flow for the VVIP’s visit, he added.
Long traffic jams were witnessed at the airport light point, Hallomajra light point, poultry farm chowk, Tribune chowk, Sectors 32, 33 and 34 chowks as all buses leading to the Sector 17 ISBT take this route.
Lake parking closed
People visiting Sukhna Lake had to face inconvenience as the authorities closed the parking lot at the lake for entire day due to the President’s visit.
What should have been done?
Intelligence bureau sources say the police should escort the VVIPs’ convoy from the airport light point to the Tribune chowk and then divert it towards the Transport light point in Sector 26 and then straight towards the T-point in Sector 26. From here, the convoy should take the road leading to St Kabir School, Sector 26, from where it will pass through Golf Club and the Raj Bhawan to avoid traffic chaos.