Delhi: Traffic chaos spills over to internal colony roads

By, New Delhi
Mar 17, 2023 04:06 AM IST

The closure kicked in on Sunday evening, when the Delhi public works department (PWD) shut the Nehru Place to IIT Delhi carriageway of the Chirag Delhi flyover for 25 days to allow structural repairs

The traffic mess emerging from the closure of one carriageway of the Chirag Delhi flyover has resulted in the vehicular load on internal roads in neighbouring areas rising many fold, exacerbating an already dire situation for residents who have been navigating harrowing trips to and from their homes since Sunday due to the chaos along Outer Ring Road.

Representational image.
Representational image.

With tailbacks from the Chirag Delhi intersection often stretching till the Nehru Place junction 2km away, commuters using that carriageway to go towards Hauz Khas, Saket or Lajpat Nagar have started using colony roads to skip the clogged crossing.

The result has been severe snarls on narrow stretches that were largely vacant earlier.

On one side of Outer Ring Road, the worst affected stretches include EPDP Road, Inder Mohan Bhardwaj and CR Park Main Road, which link GK-2, Alaknanda, CR Park and Kalkaji. On the opposite side, Greater Kailash Road and Hansraj Gupta Marg, which serve as access points to GK-1, Pamposh Enclave, East of Kailash and Andrews Ganj, have been hit badly.

As a result, residents of these parts are now forced to make their way through glacial queues during their commutes and deal with heightened noise pollution for much of the day.

The closure kicked in on Sunday evening, when the Delhi public works department (PWD) shut the Nehru Place to IIT Delhi carriageway of the Chirag Delhi flyover for 25 days to allow structural repairs. The opposite stretch will also be shut for 25 days once repairs on the first carriageway are complete. To be sure, the Delhi government has indicated that efforts are being made to finish the project in 30 days, instead of 50.

The situation has been worsened by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) on Wednesday shutting an 800m stretch of the Delhi-Jaipur highway between Rangpuri and Rajokri for 90 days. This has made commutes between south Delhi and Gurugram painful, with travel times often doubled due to the two choke points.The double whammy has left ripples on traffic across much of south, southeast and southwest Delhi, with commuters heading from these parts towards central Delhi, Gurugram or the airport stuck in jams.

Chetan Sharma, a resident of GK-2 and general secretary of the Confederation of NCR RWAs, said the mess at Outer Ring Road has left residents of colonies adjacent to it “trapped”, particularly during peak hours.

“If anyone plans to get out of the area and head to south or central Delhi, they have to keep 40-50 minutes additional time to reach in time. Key roads of CR Park have been severely affected due to the thoroughfare traffic. Residents have been forced to modify their schedules and shift their commuting hours,” he said.

PK Paul, secretary of the EBDP Association, the nodal resident’s welfare association of CR Park, said the body has written to the Delhi traffic police and area MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj to deploy traffic marshals and civil defence volunteers to manage the situation.

“The road along CR Park Market 3 gets completely choked as traffic from Greater Kailash and CR Park together use it to merge on to Outer Ring Road. B and C blocks are having the worst of it,” he said.

“Bipin Chandra Pal Marg is being resurfaced, which adds to the woes and causes suspended clouds of dust,” he added.

Experts said such a situation was expected, but avoidable, adding that more police marshalls need to be deployed to ease the mess.

Residents and experts said a host of problems coalescing have added to the problem.

First, internal roads are by design ill-equipped to handle large volumes of traffic. According to traffic police estimates, around 300,000 vehicles use the stretch of Outer Ring Road every day, with a bulk of them concentrated during the rush hours in the morning and evening. The spillover traffic now also includes small commercial vehicles, which squeeze the narrow stretches, as well as a host of delivery executives looking to avoid the traffic on the arterial road.

Second, encroachments by vendors have already narrowed the usable section of the roads.

Third, GK-1 and 2 are home to key commercial complexes and markets, with traffic on the roads leading to these spots already seeing significantly heavy traffic. However, commuters have now started using these stretches to circumvent the main road mayhem.

For instance, the Delhi traffic police have recommended Greater Kailash Road, which leads towards the GK-2 M Block market, as an alternative route for commuters to avoid the Chirag Delhi chaos. This has, however, led to the already busy stretch being choked further, with market associations in particular complaining that the extra vehicular burden has started pushing customers away.

Rajender Sharda, who heads the GK-1 M Block Market association said business has halved since Monday, a day after the closure.

“The lanes are choked completely. Who wants to waste one hour just to reach a market?” he said.

On the opposite side of Outer Ring Road, Vikram Bhasin, who heads the GK-2 M-block market, echoed similar concerns.

“Our footfall is almost half what it was last week. Customers now prefer to go to South Extension and Lajpat Nagar. For instance, if a customer wants to travel from Vasant Vihar to GK-2, it will take them at least 45 minutes,” he said.

Fourth, resident welfare groups in some areas, like Nehru Enclave, have started shutting colony gates, to keep thoroughfare traffic at bay.

S Velmurugan, chief scientist and head of the traffic engineering and safety division at the Central Road Research Institute (CRRI) said shutting colony gates will only wedge traffic even further.

“The interests of commuters on Outer Ring Road and residents need to be balanced. The traffic police will have to deploy marshals to regulate this movement. Closing the colony gates will only add to the overall congestion both inside the residential area as well as outside,” he said.

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