Rain lashed parts of Delhi on Saturday, adding to the traffic woes of commuters. While the maximum temperature came down five notches below the season’s average to 25.3 degrees Celsius, the lowest so far this month, the downpour caused further inconvenience to commuters who were forced to negotiate traffic snarls and waterlogging across the city.
Already reeling under heavy traffic due to repair works on the Chirag Dilli flyover and a 500-metre section of the Delhi-Jaipur Highway (NH-48) — between Rangpuri and Rajokri, both shut down last week, commuters were forced to endure longer commutes due to traffic snarls caused by waterlogging on the Delhi-Gurugram Expressway.
Commuters also complained about traffic in areas such as Bhikaji Cama Place, Jain Nagar and along the route from Khajuri to Bhajanpura.
Taking stock of the situation, Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Atishi on Saturday asked officials to double the pace of the ongoing repair work on Chirag Dilli flyover and ensure the completion of the first phase by March 31.
She also directed Delhi Police to chalk out an alternative route plan. “Given the requirement of the Chirag Dilli flyover which is used by thousands of commuters every day, the PWD is carrying out maintenance work on a war-footing. As per the suggestion of the Chief Minister, we have decided to keep one of the two lanes open for the commuters to avoid any inconvenience to them. This will be closely monitored by me,” said Ms. Atishi.
The PWD had partially closed the flyover on March 12 for 50 days. The partial closure is causing inconvenience to commuters across south Delhi.
Commuters, however, complained that most of the alternate routes are choked and vehicular movement has slowed down.
Sanjay Rana, general secretary of residents’ welfare association, Greater Kailash-II, said, “The traffic from neighbouring colonies is piling up at Greater Kailash-II. While the PWD process is slow, we have requested the police to look for better ways to manage the traffic and inform commuters regarding alternate routes,” he said.
Mr. Rana, who often commutes between Greater Kailash-I and Greater Kailash-II, said the route that used to take 15 minutes now takes around one-and-a-half hours. “We have requested residents to make maximum use of the metro,” he said.
A senior police officer agreed that vehicular movement has been slow on the carriageway from Nehru Place to IIT-Delhi and said the commute now takes 20-25 minutes more to cover this stretch.
The PWD is carrying out repair work on the carriageway from Nehru Place to the IIT Delhi flyover. In an advisory issued on March 9, Delhi Traffic Police said repair work on each carriageway would take 25 days.
“Commuters should take alternate routes to reach their destinations. Traffic officers have been deployed to inform the commuters,” he said.
The officer said they received requests and suggestions from residents of the area, including PWD engineers, to allow vehicular movement from both directions on the carriageway that is functional for the time being. However, it doesn’t seem possible, he added.
“This can clog the roads leading to both Nehru Place and Hauz Khas,” he said, adding that the police, however, will carry out a trial round on Monday morning to ascertain whether the suggestion can be implemented.
When asked about the feasibility of one carriageway being open to commuters travelling up and down, the PWD did not respond.
Mr. Rana said commercial vehicles are causing further problems for commuters as well as Greater Kailash-II and C.R. Park residents. They enter from Alaknanda and go towards Savitri Cinema.
“Trucks have started passing through Greater Kailash-II. Even water tankers bound for areas such as Sangam Vihar pass through Greater Kailash-II. We understand there’s no other route, but it has created a mess in the area,” he said.
The officer explained that the commercial vehicles pass through the Outer Ring Road between two time slots — 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“Since commercial vehicles move slowly, traffic movement on the entire stretch has slowed down,” he said.
Raja, an auto driver, said the alternate routes too are blocked. “If we have to go to Hauz Khas, we now have to take the Siri Fort Road. But the whole traffic is diverted to that route and nothing moves,” he said, adding that they are not able to increase the fare even after taking longer routes.
Some commuters complained that while they took an alternate route from Nehru Place, they were stuck in traffic near Kailash Colony. “We had to navigate through narrow lanes. Vehicular movement is heavy in all areas leading to Lajpat Nagar from Moolchand,” a commuter said.
Traffic was heavy even for the commuters heading towards Dhaula Kuan.
A Twitter user, Vipin Khosla said at 10 a.m. only four people were working on the flyover. “Why can’t the PWD deploy a team of 20-25 people?” Mr. Khosla tweeted.