Gurugram Police restricts border checks for rush hours on Saturday; curbs to remain in place in Lockdown 5.0
A day after imposing travel restrictions at the Delhi-Gurugram border that led to heavy congestion on the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, the police on Saturday somewhat relaxed the checking of vehicles. While the police continued to check for the movement passes during the rush hours, for the rest of the day, however, they only conducted a random check of the vehicles. Meanwhile, although the ministry of home affairs (MHA), on late Saturday evening, allowed for the unrestricted movement of goods and people between states, the Gurugram district administration decided to continue with the present restrictions in view of the public health situation in the state.
On Saturday morning, those with movement passes pasted on the front screen of their vehicles were allowed to pass easily unlike Friday when every vehicle was stopped for checking. The checking on Saturday mainly took place between 7.30am and 9.30am and then from 5pm to 7.30pm
Commuters who travelled on both Friday and Saturday said that the congestion was far less on Saturday as compared to the previous day. The volume of vehicles on weekends is much lower than it is on the weekdays and the traffic police were also not stopping every vehicles, said the commuters.
“On Friday, there was heavy congestion and it took me around 35-40 minutes to cross the border. Even those with passes were being stopped and asked about the destination for which they were headed. Today (Saturday), however, the police were not stopping those with movement passes for questioning and letting them through. The combination of light traffic and a greater leniency on the part of the police resulted less traffic congestion. As such, It took me less than 15 minutes to cross the border,” said Keshav Anand, a resident of Sector 55.
A spot visit by the HT team to the expressway revealed that, around 1pm, on the Gurugram to Delhi side of the carriageway, police personnel were checking vehicles for passes in only the extreme left lane while toll operators were checking vehicles in the other three. However, they were only stopping commercial vehicles. On the Delhi to Gurugram carriageway, despite heavy police presence, free movement of vehicles was being allowed only through a single lane.
“We do not have adequate manpower to stop and check every single vehicle. Even if we do this for 10-15 minutes, it leads to a kilometre-long pile-up and it takes more than 30-45 minutes for the traffic to return to normalcy. We are thus allowing most vehicles to pass through and are only stopping those that have more than one or two occupants and have vehicle registration number plates that do not belong to either Delhi or Gurugram,” said a police official at the spot.
The vigilance at the border was increased on Friday after Haryana home minister Anil Vij directed the main roads as well as internal roads connecting the four districts of the state with Delhi to be sealed, alleging that a bulk of the new coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in Haryana were related to Delhi.
Gurugram police officials said that there would be no change in the deployment and checking at the borders unless new directions are issued in this regard.
“We will continue to have thorough checking at the borders until we receive any new direction from the government stating otherwise. Only those engaged in essential services, and those with movement passes will be allowed to allowed to cross over to Delhi or vice versa,” said Chander Mohan, DCP, traffic.
Mohan, however, denied that Gurugram Police were carrying out random checking for most of the day, and said it may have happened momentarily.
Restrictions during Lockdown 5.0
On Saturday evening, the ministry of home affairs (MHA) issued a fresh set of guidelines on the phased re-opening of activities outside containment areas across India. Although one of the rules stated that there will be ‘unrestricted movement of persons and goods’ between states and within states, a clause to rule stated that a state or a Union Territory could regulate movement based on an assessment of the public health situation. The movement, however, can only be restricted if the details about the restrictions have been publicised well in advance by the local administration.
When asked about the movement of goods and persons between Haryana and Delhi, deputy commissioner Amit Khatri said that Gurugram will be operating with this clause. “At present, we will be regulating the movement of people and goods as per the MHA’s enabling clause. It is an NCR-wide decision. Any change in this regard will be initiated depending on the situation following a thorough review of public health with regards to coronavirus,” said Khatri.
When asked about the problems faced by the people in the past few days regarding the issuance of movement passes through the SARAL Haryana portal, Khatri said that it is likely the servers are being updated towards the end of the month and hence, people were facing such issues. On Saturday evening, application for movement passes through the portal returned to normalcy.