Cops lock down traffic near Lalbaugcha Raja, create 1 km-long jam

Be prepared to face traffic jams nearly a kilometre long at Lalbaug, as the traffic police have blocked entry to south-bound cars and buses near the iconic pandal; unless they can prove they live there, motorists are being forced to take the flyover instead

Like thousands of Mumbaikars, if you’ve also made plans to visit Lalbaugcha Raja for a last glimpse before visarjan, be warned: four-wheelers and buses are not being allowed to ply on the access road to the pandal, and are instead being re-directed to the Lalbaug flyover.

Already one of the most popular Ganpati pandals in Mumbai, Lalbaugcha Raja witnesses even large crowds during the last three days of Ganeshotsav. To ensure better crowd control and safety, the traffic police yesterday barricaded the south-bound access road next to the Lalbaug flyover. Pics/Rane ashish
Already one of the most popular Ganpati pandals in Mumbai, Lalbaugcha Raja witnesses even large crowds during the last three days of Ganeshotsav. To ensure better crowd control and safety, the traffic police yesterday barricaded the south-bound access road next to the Lalbaug flyover. Pics/Rane ashish

Not only has this led to massive traffic jams on the south-bound stretch of Dr Ambedkar Road, but has also irked devotees who were forced to take the flyover and then drive another 2 km till Byculla, before they could take a U-turn and park closer to the pandal.

Already one of the most popular Ganpati pandals in Mumbai, Lalbaugcha Raja witnesses even larger crowds during the last three days of Ganeshotsav. To ensure better crowd control and safety, the traffic police yesterday barricaded the south-bound access road next to the Lalbaug flyover.

There were no traffic restrictions on the opposite side of the road, but motorists heading from Dadar to Lalbaug encountered barricades just ahead of the Lalbaug flyover, along with signboards stating that entry had been restricted for four-wheelers.

Gridlocked
On Friday evening, when mid-day visited the area, vehicles were locked in a bottleneck from nearly a km away, with the jam starting as far back as Hindmata flyover. Citizens were peeved that the traffic department had not bothered to place no-entry signs earlier on the route, near the Hindmata and Dadar TT flyovers, which would have warned them to take a different route.

But the most number of complaints came devotees, who grumbled about having to drive all the way to Byculla before they could take a U-turn and park closer to Lalbaugcha Raja. Parmeshwaram M, a resident of Mulund, said, “We have been going to Lalbaugcha Raja for the last four years.

It was only after we reached the start of Lalbaug flyover that we realised the road below had been closed. The authorities should have at least put up boards at Dadar TT flyover or at Hindmata flyover, so that the motorists using the road can use the alternative routes to reach Lalbaug.”

The traffic jam also caused great inconvenience to devotees who had driven there to visit other famous Ganpati pandals in the area, such as Ganesh Galli, Narepark Ganpati. Parel Traffic Police posted three traffic constables and a senior official near the start of Lalbaug flyover to manage the traffic. This reporter also spotted local residents arguing with the cops, as the police were only allowing them to use the road after checking their address on the driving licence.

“We understand that the commuters are facing inconvenience because we have restricted the entry on the south-bound stretch of road below the Lalbaug flyover, but we had to take this decision because the number of devotees coming to Lalbaug for darshan increases by large numbers in the last three days. The decision was taken to ensure minimum chaos and traffic problems,” said a traffic cop.

Another cop said that there had also been an increase in number of the vehicles along that route because the Currey Road road overbridge had recently been ropened, and many people were choosing that route to head toward the Bharatmata junction.

Voices

J Naidu, Lalbaug resident
The traffic police should have installed signboards along the entire road. What is worse is the fact that even local residents are being denied entry, and only after showing our address proof are we being allowed inside.

Shyam Taru, Devotee from Pune
I seriously don’t understand why boards were not put up well in advance on the road so that people could get an idea about the closure of the road below. It was only after reaching the Lalbaug flyover that we realised we would have to go all the way to Byculla to park our vehicle and then come to Lalbaug for darshan. We are new to Mumbai and all this will only add to the inconvenience for us.

Dr Parna Thakkar, Anaesthesiologist
I took the Dr Ambedkar road as I wanted to go to Chinchpokli to collect a poster which I had to present at an international conference. In order to reach Chinchpokli, the road below Lalbaug flyover is the only option and it is only after reaching the flyover that I realised that the cops would not allow us inside. I have a flight in the evening and due to this diversion a lot of my time will be wasted.

JaganNath Rao, Devotee
We have come in a group of 40 commandos for the darshan of Lalbaugcha Raja, and now we will have to walk all the way from Lalbaug flyover to the pandal. I can understand why the traffic police are stopping vehicles, but they should at least put warning boards at other locations so that people can take alternative routes.

Bus passengers affected
Commuters travelling by BEST buses heading towards Lalbaug and Bharatmata via Dr Ambedkar road also had to get down near the start of the Lalbaug flyover. BEST spokesperson, H Gophane said, “We are following the directions given by the police. The passengers can alight at bus stops before or after the flyover. We aren’t charging anything more than the prescribed fare.”

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