Frequent protests and the subsequent closure of the R-Block gates to prevent demonstrators from proceeding towards the Assembly have cast a shadow on the utility of the 350-metre-long third arm of Mithapur flyover, constructed to ease traffic congestion.
The new arm of the flyover, inaugurated on August 14, has become a cause of concern for the commuters using it, as they have to take a detour whenever there is a demonstration near R-Block. They have to take a U-turn after landing on Hardinge Road three-four days in a week because of protests. (See graphic)
The ripple effect of the traffic diversion triggers congestion at several other busy intersections, including Dakbungalow, Station and Income Tax roundabouts. The traffic also comes to a standstill near Kotwali police station, Hartali Mor and on Exhibition Road.
The new arm of the flyover was developed to help R-Block, secretariat or airport-bound commuters reach their destinations without touching the busy Income Tax and Dakbungalow squares. But whenever the gates are closed, they have to go through the ordeal of negotiating the heavy traffic at the two roundabouts.
On Tuesday, commuters had to suffer because of about 500 members of Vitt Rahit Siksha Sayukt Sangharsh Morcha. They marched towards R-Block in support of their demands, prompting the administration to close the gates. Thousands had to take a detour after reaching there.
Meera Tiwari, a homemaker, was visibly worried after finding the gates closed. She had to go to Gardanibagh. Had the gates been open, she would have reached her destination in 10 minutes.
“It is a mess over here. I cannot even walk and go to the other side. I do not know any other way of reaching my home. I just left the rickshaw and now I am helpless. A policeman told me that I would have to take another route to reach Gardanibagh. Now it will take at least one-and-a-half-hours to reach home,” said Meera.
Aditya Kumar, a resident of the Postal Park area, said: “What is the use of this flyover if the gates are closed for three to four days in a week? Why the government did not take into count this problem before opening it for public use?”
Commerce College student Vishal Gaurav was furious after finding the gates closed. He was going to Ashiana with his mother to see an ailing relative.
“This is the fourth time I have got stuck over here in the past two weeks. I really do not understand the purpose behind constructing this flyover. When the gates are closed, the traffic police should depute some personnel on the flyover to alert commuters that they should not to take this route. Now, we have to take a detour after coming down from the flyover. It is a complete waste of time and energy,” said Dakbungalow resident Vishal.
“A handful of people compelling the authorities to close the gates has become a regular affair now. The demonstrators perhaps do not understand the importance of this road. Why the district administration can’t earmark some other place for them? This particular road connects too many important locations.”
District magistrate Sanjay Kumar Singh did not have any instant solution, but said: “We are trying to find out some alternative place for the demonstrators to get rid of the traffic problem. As soon as we get one, we will earmark the place for them.”
A senior traffic police officer said: “Whenever the R-Block gates are closed, our whole day goes for a toss. It is humanly not possible for anyone to ensure smooth traffic movement in the city after the closure of the R-Block gates.”