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Traffic jams could play spoiler on New Year’s eve festivities in Chandigarh

punjab Updated: Dec 30, 2016 15:27 IST
Nikhil Sharma

A traffic jam near the Elante Mall on Thursday.(Anil Dayal/HT Photo)

The chaos and the excruciating jams witnessed on the city roads could repeat itself on New Year’s eve. Jams that had commuters stuck for nine hours on the roads in the Industrial Area, around the Elante Mall, on Christmas eve might happen again with no concrete plan being put in place for the area.

Industrial Area, where all the city’s prominent malls are located, and the stretch from Sector 31 to Sector 26 are expected to witness barely-moving traffic. Other than these, the parking of vehicles can be a major challenge in Sectors 17, 35 and 8.

With a capacity of parking of just over 5,000 vehicles inside the mall, the Elante authorities are expecting to have a footfall of around 1.5 lakh on the New Year’s eve. At an average of five people per car, at least 20,000 cars are expected to converge on the area. The roads leading to the Mall remained fully choked even on Christmas eve with some commuters stuck in the jam for nine hours.

The mall authorities and the police are not on the same page with each expecting the other to bear the major share of traffic burden.

“We cannot control the traffic on the city roads. The police should make all possible arrangements. More visitors are expected here on the New Year than the crowd witnessed on Christmas,” said Anil Malhotra, chief operating officer (COO), CSJ Infrastructure Private Limited, the firm that manages the mall.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP) Eish Singhal said, “We will deploy police in adequate numbers near malls and parking areas in the Industrial Area and other prominent places. However, the mall officials must also come up with a traffic plan of their own as the footfall, on such occasions, is a lot more than the parking space available.”

Malhotra, however, added, “We always receive much higher than the normal footfall of around 50,000 during holidays and festive season. We do brainstorm on traffic management with the authorities.”

Another senior police official added that the mall authorities need to make arrangements for parking before allowing entry to people.

“There will be deployment of 300 traffic cops and around 200 home guard volunteers to manage the traffic in the city. We have adequate force to manage traffic on the New Year’s eve. We expect the crowd to be far more distributed than only on roads around the Elante as there are other places where people will go as well,” said another police official.