SAD's rally throws traffic out of gear in Delhi
Massive snarls and congestion were seen on Friday on several arterial stretches in the national capital, especially around central Delhi, owing to a farmers’ protest march organised by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to mark one year of the enactment of the three contentious farm laws.
Although the proposed march – from Rakab Ganj gurdwara to Parliament House – was not allowed by the Delhi Police on Friday citing Covid-19 restrictions, SAD leaders held a symbolic march along Pandit Pant Marg till the entry to Parliament House Annexe, barely 500 metres from the gurdwara, with banners and flags demanding a repeal of the three farm laws.
Throughout the day, the Delhi traffic police used its social media handles to alert commuters about intermittent closure of specific roads and to suggest diversions to avoid inconvenience. However, despite these warnings, snarls were seen at Dhaula Kuan, ITO, Vikas Marg, Delhi Gate, Karol Bagh, Sardar Patel Marg, Moti Bagh and Rao Tula Ram Marg, among others. Because of the restrictions put in place in central Delhi, a ripple effect of these jams was also seen around Tilak Marg, the India Gate hexagon, Teen Murti Marg and adjoining roads.
Via a series of tweets, the Delhi traffic police informed commuters about the closure of roads at Jharoda Kalan border (with Haryana) and suggested alternative routes to avoid getting stuck in the farmer protests.
“Gurdwara Rakabganj Road, RML Hospital, GPO, Ashoka Road, Baba Kharak Singh Marg will be closed for traffic movement due to the farmers’ movement. Please avoid using these routes,” traffic police tweeted.
In another tweet they said, “Both carriageways of the Jharoda Kalan border have been barricaded due to the farmers’ movement, please refrain from using this route.”
During the day, the police also intermittently stopped the traffic moving from Gurugram towards Sardar Patel Marg, while the traffic coming from Naraina loop was diverted to the Ring Road towards Moti Bagh. This also led to long tailbacks along RK Puram, Moti Bagh, Sarojini Nagar, and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), with vehicles queuing up all the way till Lajpat Nagar on the Ring Road.
Earlier in the day, traffic from the Pusa roundabout towards Shankar Road was also diverted towards Pusa Road, the traffic police said. Around afternoon, the Narela-Bawana road was also closed temporarily, traffic officials said.
Many took to social media to complain about commuting hassles and some of them even uploaded pictures of stationary vehicles. A few airport-bound commuters, who were particularly stressed by these unprecedented jams, also complained about the lack of preparedness by the authorities.
“The entire central Delhi and Ring Road towards the airport was jammed on Friday. My parents had to take a flight in the evening and seeing these worrying tweets, we left home an hour earlier than usual. Despite that, they just about managed to make it on time. There was no police personnel on the road to manage the traffic; vehicles were being diverted randomly. If they (authorities) knew about these protests, why did they not make proper announcements and arrangements in advance?” said Ankur Khanna, a resident of east Delhi’s IP Extension.