Chaos, confusion and traffic congestion as Delhi seals borders

New Delhi, Jun 2 (PTI) Hundreds of office-goers, those with valid e-passes and many with medical appointments were stuck for hours on the busy entry points of Delhi as its borders were sealed on Tuesday in view of the coronavirus outbreak, leading to chaos and traffic snarls.

Vehicles piled up and many people were seen reasoning with the police as they were not allowed to enter Delhi from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

Police said they were only letting in the residents of the national capital and those having government-approved identification cards.

Some people were not even aware that the borders were sealed on Tuesday when the Delhi government had announced several relaxations in the lockdown norms starting Monday.

Although falling in different states, Delhi and its satellite cities such as Gurgaon, Faridabad and others (in Haryana) and Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad among others (in Uttar Pradesh) are intertwined. A large number of people stay in these cities and work in Delhi and vice-versa.

At the Delhi-Gurgaon border, the traffic crawled and people complained they were not allowed despite what they said were 'genuine' reasons for travel.

Shreshtha Arya, a Delhi-based advocate, was not allowed to take his father to a hospital in Gurgaon for surgery at 2 p.m. Arya said police told him to go to a hospital in Delhi. 'How can we go to a Delhi hospital when my father is being treated by doctors in Gurgaon?' Shubham Pandey, an employee of a Gurgaon-based company said, he was on night duty and didn't know that the border has been sealed.

Pandey, who hails from Uttarakhand, said he was not carrying any document to prove he is a Delhi-resident and was, therefore, not being allowed to enter.

On Monday, the Delhi government ordered sealing of the city borders for a week in the wake of rising coronavirus cases here.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had also expressed apprehensions that people from other states will come to Delhi to avail of 'best health services' amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and that may lead to a shortage of beds for the residents of the national capital.

At the Delhi-Noida border around 10 a.m, several commuters were stuck on the DND flyway.

'I was returning from work last night. There was no checking then. Today, the inspection has intensified which led to scores of vehicles queuing up. This is problematic. There should be uniformity,” Noida-resident Shivang Jain said.

Getting movement passes is also not easy for many.

Harish Joshi, who lives in Delhi's Laxmi Nagar but has a business in Greater Noida, said he has been trying to secure a movement pass for days but in vain.

'I need to resume my business. But I cannot. There could have been easier ways to help citizens instead of putting them through so much trouble,” Jain, in his late 50s, said.

The Delhi-Ghaziabad border too witnessed heavy traffic and chaos. Vehicles lined up at the border area where the police were checking them before allowing in. There were reports of “heavy traffic” on the Bhopura Border, Ghazipur Border, Chilla Border and DND Border.

According to police, they have issued more than 20 challan on the NH-24 border including for people for travel without helmet and wrong parking.

Mohammad Feroz Ansari (32) said he went to Ghaziabad to distribute masks to needy people.

'I live in Mustafabad in northeast Delhi. Nobody stopped me while entering Ghaziabad but now I’m not being allowed back. I was just helping the people. I will sit here at the border till they give permission,' Ansari said.

The situation eased out slightly towards afternoon.

Gautam Buddh Nagar Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Rajesh S said the situation was normal and there were a lesser number of vehicles on the border.

“This could be because more people are now aware that even Delhi has decided to close its border. On our side, we are maintaining the status quo (restricted entry),” he told PTI.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Indirapuram Circle, Anshu Jain told PTI that the situation became difficult when the vehicle-owners were not allowed by the Delhi Police without valid passes and documents.

They were compelled to go back from Delhi and then the traffic got more congested, he said. Now, the commuters have to obtain passes from Delhi and Ghaziabad, he said.

Back at the Delhi-Gurgaon border, commuters complained they were still being asked to show e-passes despite the Haryana government order of allowing interstate travel.

A long traffic jam was witnessed on the Gurgaon (Haryana) side of the border as a team of policemen stopped each vehicle for checking. Gurgaon-resident Begraj Yadav said he had been undergoing treatment for mental health at Delhi’s Ganga Ram Hospital. “I have been waiting here for 20 minutes, requesting policemen to allow me to go to the hospital. No one ready to listen to me.' Aneesh Jairu, 32, stood on the Delhi side of the border with medicines for his father-in-law, a heart patient in Gurgaon.

'He needs these medicines. So, I have called my brother-in-law here to take them,” he said.

Many with valid ID cards also kept waiting on the Delhi side of the border. A policemen on duty said, “Most of the people going to Gurgaon do not know that they can return if they have a valid proof to establish they are residents of Delhi.” “However, non-Delhiites can only enter the city if they carry essential services pass,” he said. PTI GVS/NIT/KIS/Corr PR TIR TIR