NEW DELHI: The national capital on the first day of this year came to a standstill as over 2.5 lakh pedestrians gathered at the India Gate to celebrate the occasion. In addition, the heavy movement of motorists choked all routes to central and other parts of Delhi.
Traffic was thrown out of gear as the number of people emerging from the centre of the city was seven times of what was estimated, according to an official statement released by the traffic police on Monday evening.India Gate kept trending on social media sites, such as Twitter, with commuters taking to the platform to troll the police for not being able to control the menace. Following this, all routes leading to India Gate had to be shut.
The traffic police also started issuing alerts on social media platforms.
"The total number of pedestrians who reached Rajpath must be around 2.5 lakh. It was seven times of what was expected. Due to the crowd around Rajpath, movement of cars was blocked," said Depender Pathak, special CP (traffic).
Key roads such as Akshardham, ITO, DND, Ashram, towards Film City, and Sector 18 flyover in Noida towards Mall of India, had traffic inching very slowly throughout the day. The situation worsened in the afternoon as more people stepped out to enjoy January 1, after the fog settled a bit.
Massive traffic jams around Delhi's India Gate area. pic.twitter.com/D8sOsZgxIZ
— ANI (@ANI) January 1, 2018
"It was a most harrowing first day. I started from Mandi House to reach Connaught Place but got stuck in traffic for around two hours. It was unprecedented," said Nitika Vats, a banker by profession.
What added to commuters' woes in south Delhi was closing down of Lajpat Nagar flyover, a busy and key route connecting NCR towns, for repair after huge cracks appeared on it earlier this week.
— ANI (@ANI) January 1, 2018
All the arterial and key roads of the Capital witnessed hour-long jams as new year revellers got out on the cold Monday afternoon. Roads along religious establishments were jammed as well as scores of people visited these places throughout the day, starting early morning, to mark the new beginnings.
With most offices closed for the day and schools, too, having winter vacations, families visited tourist places such as India Gate and different malls in the city and the National Capital Region, leading to slow vehicular movement.
Traffic crawled at Chattarpur Mandir and Sai Mandir due to a gathering of devotees. Also, vehicles moved bumper to bumper on both carriageways of Bhairon Marg due to a gathering of people near Pragati Maidan and those visiting the Delhi Zoo.
In northwest Delhi, there was heavy traffic on the Netaji Subhash Marg, due to the gathering of devotees near the Gauri Shankar temple. There was obstruction of traffic in the carriageway from the Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar towards Alipur (service road) due to the bursting of a water pipeline.
"It was a crazy traffic everywhere across the city on Tuesday. It took me three hours to reach Mehrauli from Lajpat Nagar. The Delhi traffic police should have been prepared to handle the crowd. But no such arrangements were made," said Sandeep Bali, RWA, Mehrauli
"Traffic on Akshardham was extremely bad. The scenario was no different when we entered Noida. There was a long queue of cars towards Mall of India and it took us more than 30 minutes to cover a distance of 2 kms. There was no one manning the traffic. The police must have anticipated the situation," said Brig Girish Gogia (retd).
"It took me two hours to get to Connaught Place, as all the routes to the place were choked. This was unimaginable on a New Year day. There were no arrangements in place to manage this kind of traffic in the Capital city." Shikha Singh, a commuter.
Monday’s traffic was worst the Delhi NCR saw in years. To travel from South Delhi to Noida, it took us more than two hours. The worst part was that traffic cops could not be spotted.
"Delhi Police had been claiming to ensure smooth traffic, which certainly did not happen," Avernita Srivastava, Dean, at an educational institute.