Caught in toll plaza traffic, Haryana Minister orders free rides
Haryana leader directs booms to be opened; approaches NHAI for solution
Haryana Industries and Commerce Minister Vipul Goel had a “common man moment” on Monday when he was caught in a traffic jam at Badarpur toll plaza for more than 15 minutes on his way to Delhi for a meeting.
Furious, the Minister directed to open all the booms at the toll to allow free ride to the commuters for several minutes to clear the traffic jam.
‘A routine affair’
The commuters, however, said the traffic jam at the toll plaza was a routine affair and demanded that it be shifted as a lasting solution.
Mr. Goel, who represents Faridabad in Haryana Vidhan Sabha and holds the environment portfolio, was on his way to Vigyan Bhawan for a meeting around 10 a.m.
When the traffic could not be cleared for more than 15 minutes, the Minister, surrounded by his security personnel, chose to step out of his car to take stock of the situation and directed the toll plaza staff to open all the booms.
In a video, the Minister can be seen walking up to the toll lanes and himself waving at the motorists to drive away.
“I have been caught in the traffic for more than 15 minutes. You cannot allow the traffic to pile up beyond 100 m. If your equipment are not working, why make the people suffer...These people need to reach office,” the Minister was heard telling the toll staff, who in turn pleaded with him not to allow the free rides.
Later, Mr. Goel told The Hindu that he spoke to the National Highways Authority of India, project director, Mohammad Safi and called a meeting with him and the toll staff on Thursday to find a lasting solution to it.
“If need be, I will even speak to (Union Minister for Surface Transport and Shipping) Gadkari ji,” said Mr. Goel, adding that it was not the first time that he was caught in jam at this toll.
Mr. Goel said that he had also directed the NHAI and the PWD to draw lines at a distance of 100 m on both sides of the toll and not allow the traffic to pile up beyond it.
Faridabad resident Gaurav Prabhakar, who works at an IT company in Noida, said that traffic jams at the toll had become a routine thing and that he had to wait for 15-20 minutes every time he crossed the toll during rush hours.
Neeraj Gaur, another commuter, said the toll was poorly managed and their equipment, such as booms and scanners machines, malfunctioned frequently causing delays.
He added that the toll staff was clueless to handle increased traffic volume during peak hours.
Ajay Sharma, a Faridabad Sector-9 resident, alleged that the staff was rude. Minor accidents and scuffles were a routine at the toll.
“The vehicles without tags enter the dedicated Fastag lane, but there is no one to stop them,” said Mr. Sharma.
Toll manager Lalit Chauhan of Arya Toll Infra, a company that manages the toll plaza, said the number of Fastag users had trebled to 6,000 over the past one month after the monthly pass holders and local tag holders were converted to Fastags, but there was only one dedicated lane for them.
“We have written to the NHAI to increase the number of Fastag lanes, but there is no reply as yet,” said Mr. Chauhan.
He conceded that their equipment were very old and were being replaced. When contacted, Mr. Safi refused to comment.