Delhi Police shuts one lane of Delhi-Meerut Expressway after opening for a few hours
The Delhi Police on Tuesday opened up one lane of the heavily barricaded Delhi-Meerut Expressway (DME) on the Delhi-Ghaziabad side, only to shut it once again within a couple of hours.
All the 14 lanes of the DME have been blocked by Delhi Police ever since January 26, when violence broke out between protesting farmers and police personnel. Thousands of commuters travelling from Delhi to Ghaziabad are required to follow diversions or take up alternate routes. Even the side road from Ghazipur to Vaishali in Ghaziabad is heavily barricaded by the police.
“My friends and I were overjoyed when we heard that Delhi-Ghaziabad lane was opened up. Couple of hours later, we heard that it was blocked again. Thousands of commuters from Indirapuram, Vaishali, Vasundhara and nearby areas are facing a tough time during peak hours as they are forced to follow alternate routes. This is nothing short of harassment for the common man,” said Kuldeep Saxena, resident of Indirapuram, who travels daily to his office at Katwariya Sarai in South Delhi.
“If commuters use alternate routes via Kaushambi, they get stuck in long traffic jams. Many are now following the canal road which leads them to Ghazipur. However, commuters are required to travel through areas near the filthy Ghazipur landfill site,” Saxena added.
Many commuters are braving odds and using unpaved dusty road through a forest to travel to Vaishali and nearby localities as the main road from Ghazipur to Vaishali is barricaded.
“These routes must be opened immediately. Even if one has to go to Connaught Place in Delhi, it takes about one to one-and-a-half hours as opposed to 20-25 minutes via the expressway,” said BK Pandey, a resident of Sector 5, Vaishali.
The Ghaziabad police officials said that they have no role in closing down the expressway as the barricading was put up by the Delhi police. “They opened one of the lanes on late Monday night and commuters used it on Tuesday morning to travel to Ghaziabad. However, they closed the lane again on Tuesday afternoon,” said Gyanendra Singh, superintendent of police (City 2).
Senior Delhi Police officers who did not want to be named said that no official order was issued to open up the border. The opening up of the border on Tuesday was only a temporary arrangement to facilitate the movement of emergency vehicles.
“We had been facilitating the movement of ambulances earlier as well. The movement of vehicles was restored for a few hours in the morning as some emergency vehicles were stuck in the jam. The route has been closed again because there is no official order to open up the border,” said a Delhi Police officer, requesting anonymity.
The protesting farmers, on the other hand, said that they have no issues if the Delhi Police decides to remove the barricades. “Our protest is being carried out only on one lane of the Ghaziabad-Delhi carriageway while the rest of the expressway is not occupied. If they want, they can open up the lanes. We also demand that the unoccupied lanes should be opened up for commuters who are facing issues,” said Jagtar Singh Bajwa, farmer leader and member of UP Gate farmers’ committee.
The National Highways Authority of India(NHAI) officials said that due to closure of the border and expressway lanes, their pending works for the DME have been held up or delayed, despite the completion date of March 31 approaching fast.
“Many works are getting delayed, such as installation of cameras, marking of directions, installation of signage, etc. Once the protest site gets cleared, we will make the assessment of damage caused to the new expressway. As a result of the protest, we are also not able to take up periodic assessments of the flyover as well,” said Mudit Garg, project director of NHAI.
(With inputs from Delhi Bureau)