Expect traffic jams, blockades as Delhi hosts ASEAN leaders ahead of R-Day
Blockades and jams are likely to clog parts of central Delhi between January 23 and 26, when the traffic police plan to restrict the movement of vehicles because of two key events — an Asean summit and the Republic Day celebrations.
A traffic police officer, who asked not to be named, said the road restrictions in the area around India Gate will begin on January 23 when the full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day is held.
“This year, motorists will be affected by the arrival of foreign dignitaries,” he said.
Heads of 10 countries are expected to attend the main event of the Asean-India Commemorative Summit on January 25 and the Republic Day parade at Rajpath the next day.
The VIP movement will add to the Republic Day traffic curbs after the heads of states reach the city on January 24 and 25.
Their itinerary includes visits to the summit venue at Taj Palace Hotel on Sardar Patel Marg and to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the at-home function on the afternoon of January 26.
The leaders are likely to stay at five-star hotels on Sardar Patel Marg, Man Singh Road, Zakir Hussain Marg and in Chanakyapuri.
The traffic police have a list of roads that commuters should avoid on January 25 and 26 — Shanti Path, Teen Murti, South Avenue, Akbar Road, Vijay Chowk, Mother Teresa Crescent, Sardar Patel Marg, Panchsheel Marg, Kautilya Marg and Safdarjung Road.
Traffic police chief Dependra Pathak said that no route will be closed completely for the public on January 24 and 25, but commuters could be stopped for some time to let the dignitaries pass. “It is possible that sometimes traffic movement on a particular road could be stalled on four or five occasions at close intervals. That can create a ripple effect on traffic movement,” Pathak said.
Traffic police are trying to avoid a repeat of the New Year’s Day gridlock around India Gate, when about 250,000 people gathered there, triggering tailbacks in east and south Delhi.
They plan to be in touch with Google to update the traffic situation and suggest alternative routes on those four days. “We will be updating Google about any restrictions … Like in some cases in the past, Google Maps will recommend an alternative route to motorists so that they do not take restricted roads,” Pathak said.
“We will also put out traffic advisories in newspapers, on news channels, through radio stations, on social media and through personal SMSes. Police personnel will be out on the roads in full force to ensure motorists do not face inconvenience,” he added.
The traffic police are being extra-cautious because central Delhi came to a standstill during the India-Africa Summit in October 2015 because of VIP movements and road restrictions, officials said.
“In the past, Delhi hosted international events that saw as many as 42 heads of states. Delhi is used to it, but traffic police will have to work with precision and synchronise timings of VIP movements perfectly,” said Maxwell Pereira, a former Delhi traffic police chief.
“They will need to ensure roads are closed for the smallest possible time.”