The Republic Day parade rehearsals near India Gate, like every other year, added to the woes of Delhi commuters Thursday as the traffic was diverted and roads blocked around the parade route until noon.
While there were many who were aware of the diversions, thanks to travel advisories in the newspapers, there were several others who were caught unawares and were left stranded on the roads.
Ashu Mehra, a student, said: "I take the metro to Patel Chowk everyday and then take the bus to my college in south campus. This morning, however, I had to wait for a good 45 minutes before taking an auto to college."
"It was maddening. Not only were there no buses, there was a mad rush for autos too. Taking advantage of the situation, the auto drivers fleeced the commuters to no end. I paid Rs.120 for my college when the fare is just half of that amount!" she said.
Similarly, Rakesh Mehta, an office goer said: "I knew that there would be traffic diversions before the Republic Day but I was not sure about the day. Not wanting to take a chance I left home early but reached the bus stand at Central Secretariat only at 9.30 a.m., by when the routes were already blocked."
According to a traffic official, a rehearsal for the Republic Day parade near India Gate saw the routes around the area blocked from 9 a.m. until noon.
Sakshi Sharma, another office goer, said: "I have learnt my lesson after standing in the cold for an hour for the bus and then finally took an auto, which overcharged me. From tomorrow, I will come an hour early so that I can take the bus before the route is blocked."
"My office timings are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. But I might as well take a little trouble and reach an hour early rather than go through all this hassle," she added.
The Delhi traffic police said a full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day parade will take place Jan 23 and, therefore, routes around the India Gate should be avoided between 9.30 a.m. and noon.
Delhi commuters are already having a tough time on the roads, with dense fog hindering smooth vehicular movement.
–Indo-Asian News Service