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Games get a lane, you get a jam

From September 20 to October 16, with more traffic restrictions and one lane less to drive on, Delhiites will have a tough time going from one place to another. Atul Mathur and Subhendu Ray report. View of things to come

delhi Updated: Aug 18, 2010 01:32 IST

Tough is a mild word to describe what the traffic situation will be around the Commonwealth Games.

For a month, starting September 20, thanks to certain traffic restrictions, more than 300 km of Delhi's roads will shrink by one lane. If you thought traffic in Delhi was crazy, wait and watch, it'll get crazier still.

Driving across the city during that one month, you'll wish you could fly instead—not only is it going to be tough, it's going to be Herculean task.

Several arterial roads—mainly in south and central Delhi—that witness huge traffic, will have one lane less for the same volume of traffic. Painted in blue, white and yellow, this lane will be reserved to transport athletes and officials of the 71 countries participating in the Games from October 3-14.

Not just that. On October 9, the traffic police will shut down a 20-kilometre road network in the heart of the city to facilitate the 'walk race'. On October 10, all of Connaught Place and the roads leading to it will be off-limits for motorists as the cycling event will be underway here. And on October 14, CP will again be shut to facilitate the Marathon race.

While the Games will last just 12 days, the restrictions are likely to be put in place from September 20 when the athletes and officials start arriving. The restrictions will remain till October 16.

Senior traffic police officers say, there will be complete traffic restriction on the dedicated lane between the Ashoka Hotel and Nizamuddin—a route they refer to as the 'central spine'—from September 20 to October 16.

However, lane restrictions will be enforced on a daily basis depending on athlete and VIP movement along the roads they will take from the airport to the Games village and from there to the sporting venues.

The only Delhi citizens who will be able to use these dedicated lanes will be the President, the Vice-President, the PM and the home minister. "The vehicles of other VIPs will not be allowed on the dedicated lane," a senior traffic police officer said.

Most of the roads that fall on the Airport-Games village route are two-lane and carry almost double their capacity. A single breakdown on these routes causes traffic snarls.

"You will have to bear the pain till the games are over," admitted Ajay Chadha, special commissioner of police (traffic), Delhi Police. "We cannot offer you a smooth drive on many Delhi roads where we are going to a have dedicated lane for the Commonwealth Games participants and the VIPs."

Worrying, isn't it? With more than six million vehicles registered and little addition to the road network, traffic jams are a daily affair. With so many traffic restrictions in place during the Games, residents expect the city to come to almost a standstill.

No wonder then that many Delhiites are already planning an exodus.

"There are going to be many restrictions on movement in the city during the Games. We don't want to be stuck at home with nothing to do. We are going to Kerala in October. Our children's schools will also be closed, " said Adesh Gupta, an IT professional.

Even Traffic Police is asking Delhiites to use the public transport during that time. Those planning to watch the Games can take a bus or a metro to reach the venues.

"DTC buses will go up to the games venues. Metro stations are near the venues. No parking will be allowed near the venues," Chadha said.

First Published: Aug 17, 2010 23:15 IST