Double whammy for Capital’s commuters

By, , New Delhi/gurugram
Mar 15, 2023 04:46 AM IST

Across south and south-west Delhi, commuters were subjected to excruciating traffic jams throughout Tuesday, with the closure of a large stretch of the Delhi-Jaipur highway compounding the misery beset by the earlier shutdown of one side of the Chirag Delhi flyover.

Commuters across south and south-west Delhi were subject to excruciating traffic jams throughout Tuesday, with the closure of a large stretch of the Delhi-Jaipur highway compounding the misery beset by the earlier shutdown of one side of the Chirag Delhi flyover.

Snarls beset nearly every arterial stretch in south and southeast Delhi on Tuesday. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photos)
Snarls beset nearly every arterial stretch in south and southeast Delhi on Tuesday. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photos)

Also Read | Chirag Dilli flyover closure: Traffic woes continue as commuters face delays

The two closures, around 15km apart, mean that almost everyone travelling by road in the southern parts of the Capital ended up getting caught in serpentine jams caused by one or, in most cases, both diversions. The two stretches are part of crucial routes that connect the airport to south Delhi. With both closures expected to overlap for at least another 50 days, experts warned that these conditions may persist for weeks, and that people planning to go to the airport may need to leave hours in advance.

The latest addition to the traffic mess was the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on Tuesday shutting for 90 days both carriageways of the Rangpuri-Rajokri stretch – a 800m span – of the Delhi-Jaipur highway, to facilitate the construction of a flyover and two underpasses near the spot. This immediately threw a spanner in traffic connecting Delhi to the Indira Gandhi International Airport and Gurugram.

Also Read | Closure on NH48 section adds to Delhi-Gurugram commute woes

Serpentine queues were reported throughout the day, with the mess getting worse during rush hours in the morning and evening — periods already notorious for long jams.

These bottlenecks ended up compounding the snarls that started two days earlier, when a carriageway of the Chirag Delhi flyover was shut by the Delhi public works department (PWD), kicking off a 50-day stretch of closures on the key stretch. The closures will allow authorities to repair what are known as expansion joints on the flyover. The Nehru-Place-IIT carriageway will be shut for at least 25 days. Once complete, the opposite stretch will be closed for another 25 days.

Delhi’s PWD minister, Atishi, on Tuesday urged officials of the department to wrap up work on the entire project within 30 days.

Experts criticised the simultaneous closures and said the work should have been carried out in separate phases.

S Velmurugan, chief scientist and head of traffic engineering and safety division, Central Road Research Institute (CRRI), said, “Ideally, the two contiguous sections on such an important corridor should not have been closed simultaneously and work should have been carried out in phases. The National Capital Region (NCR) has to be seen in a larger perspective. The corridor caters to almost half a million people travelling between Delhi Gurugram.”

The combined effect of these diversions meant that commuters headed from south Delhi towards the airport, Dwarka, Chhatarpur, Mahipalpur and Gurugram, and vice versa, will inevitably be stuck in glacial traffic at these bottlenecks. This traffic also ended up spilling to arterial routes as commuters tried to avoid snarls on the main roads.

In particular, the closures affect residents of Greater Kailash 2, CR Park and Kalkaji, who have found nearly all routes in and out of their homes hit since Sunday evening’s closure of the Chirag Delhi flyover. Their travels towards Gurugram or Dwarka mean they get the double whammy of both closures.

A commuter Aditya Chandra, heading from Greater Kailash towards Manesar at 8.30am on Tuesday said he got stuck at both the closure points and eventually reached his destination three hours later, on a route that generally takes around an hour. “First, I got stuck at Chirag Delhi for about 40 minutes. Then my car moved forward and I reached NH8. After the Rao Tula Ram Flyover, I endured a continuous snarl till the new diversion. I finally reached Manesar at 11.30am,” he added.

While the Delhi traffic police advisory states that commuters heading to the airport are advised to plan their departure in advance and take alternative routes to avoid delays, the rush meant that even most routes were choked with a spillover of vehicles trying to circumvent the impacted areas.

Chetan Sharma, general secretary of the Confederation of NCR RWAs and a resident of Greater Kailash, said any south Delhi resident will now have to leave their homes two hours earlier than usual to catch a flight. “We are stuck from all sides. The simultaneous closure of both the routes is very poorly planned,” he added.

Mohammed Saleem, a cab operator, said it took him 20-25 minutes to just get out of the Greater Kailash W Block and reach Masjid Moth. “If this situation continues, auto-rickshaws and cabs will be hesitant to travel to these parts. I am not returning unless things improve,” he added.

Special commissioner of police (traffic) Surender Singh Yadav said the NH-48 stretch will remain shut till constructions end. “We believe that by the end of the week, people will get used to the traffic on the stretch. NHAI has put in their best efforts in terms of widening the service roads to accommodate the diverted traffic,” said Yadav.

Nirman Jambulkar, NHAI project director, said an interchange is being built at Shiv Murti to link several key roads.

“The flyover will be 1.7km long and is already under construction. We need three months to build it along the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway, for which traffic will be diverted on main carriageways. Since traffic is being diverted in any case, it has been decided to build the two underpasses during this period as well,” he said.


    Leena Dhankhar has worked with Hindustan Times for five years. She has covered crime, traffic and excise. She now reports on civic issues and grievances of residents.

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