After over 2 months, 6km stretch of alternative route opens near Kalindi

Kusum Tewari

NEW DELHI: An alternative route of
Okhla Road that connects Sukhdev Vihar with
Kalindi Kunj, which is away from the Shaheen Bagh protest site, was opened by a group of people on Saturday.

As the news spread, traffic began heading for it from both Delhi and Noida sides, in order to bypass the Shaheen Bagh bottleneck, but it turned out that only one-way traffic could be allowed since one carriageway is blocked by students. Moreover, there is an old bridge on the way which cannot handle the volume.

There was chaos on the 6-km stretch, which passes through Okhla Marg near Jamia Millia University, over a bridge to reach the Kalindi Kunj Road crossing through Abul Fazl Enclave, could not handle the huge volume of Noida-bound traffic and the ensuing snarl reached the Escorts-Sukhdev Vihar crossing within a few hours.

Meanwhile, both carriageways of the main artery of G D Birla Marg, where the protesters are squatting, remained blocked. The protesters have told the mediators to get Supreme Court to ensure their safety if the opposite carriageway which brings traffic from Noida to Delhi – and which they say has been blocked by the police – is allowed to be opened.

DCP (south-east) R P Meena said that no orders were given by the police to open the alternative route. “It was an arbitrary decision taken by some people. We were not consulted. However, we will not allow chaos on the stretch and have deployed enough personnel to manage traffic,” he said.

The drama began around 3pm on Saturday after two groups of people started squabbling over the removal of barricades. Soon after, one of the groups managed to open the blockades. Police say the other group shut it again but around an hour later, the two groups finally reached an agreement and allowed traffic to pass. Soon after, a celebration broke out among some of the protesters.

On an average, more than 10,000 vehicles are headed towards Noida from south Delhi daily. After the barricades came up, people have been using the Ashram-DND route for the daily commute.

With Jamia Nagar-Kalindi Kunj road being opened, the volume on this stretch is expected to go up by almost three times. Besides the fact that only one carriageway is available for two-way traffic movement, there is another bottleneck further ahead near the two-lane Okhla Head culvert constructed almost 50 years ago.

On Saturday when the road turned into a bottleneck, vehicles coming from
Faridabad and
Mithapur too tried to muscle their way towards the Kalindi Kunj road, which cops had to stop to avoid the mess. Zaki Khan, a resident of Batla House who was turned away, said “We heard the road has been opened so I came. They are letting people come but not allowing us to go. It is evident that the road was opened up for only to cater to residents of the area”.

Cops had a tough time explaining to them that people could only come through the road but cannot re-enter. “We did not remove the barricades, it was the protesters who did so. However, we cannot allow the traffic to go up and down. Imagine, what would happen if an ambulance or a fire-engine gets stuck in the mess that would be created,” said a police officer.

Vinod Kumar, an employee of a private company who resides in Badarpur, got into an argument with the cops after being stopped from going towards Abul Fazl Enclave from Kalindi Chowk. “I was so happy to see in the news that the road has opened but now they asking us to turn back. What is the point of opening the road when only travel time for people living around is cut down?”

Sunil Kumar, who works as driver in Noida sector 127, had managed to sneak past the Noida police barricade and reach Mithapur Chowk only to get stuck in the jam. “I reside in
Malviya Nagar and from two months all I do is witness the traffic. Today the news said they have opened and I thought I would reach early but this is a surprise. I have three daughters and for the last two months have not spend time with them due to the traffic woes,” he said.

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