As Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in the city on Saturday to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of the Shipping Corporation of India, motorists in the city were sent into a tizzy.
Commuters on the Western Express Highway, not aware about the PM's visit, for much part of the afternoon, faced major traffic snarls. Some spots saw hour-long traffic jams, and in some areas like Mahim Causeway, two-wheelers were seen riding on SV Road's footpaths.
The northbound traffic going towards Andheri from Mahim Causeway faced much of the brunt. According to motorists, the northbound lane of Ali Yavar Jung Marg going towards Kalanagar Junction and Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) was closed and at around 12 pm, the traffic between Mahim Causeway and Kala Nagar Junction came to a complete standstill. When contacted, V L Hirmate, Police Inspector (Traffic), Bandra claimed, "Because the PM's convoy was going to pass via Kalanagar Junction, we had to close it for 10 minutes."
Also, because sections of the highway en route to Kalanagar Junction were closed, traffic jams were also seen on the road between Mahim Church and Hill Road in Bandra. Other areas where motorists suffered hardship included the stretch from Sion Koliwada Road to Arora Kaichi on RAK Road.
According to motorists, the traffic snarls could have been avoided. One commuter, Dheeraj Bhatia, who was traveling from Mahim to Malad said, "The traffic department could have avoided the inconvenience caused to motorists by planning and diverting the traffic before the road was closed."
What the CM discussed with the PM
The CM gave an overview of the development of the state, emphasising the need for special attention on public transport, housing and water supply in the Mumbai Metropolitan region.
He urged the PM to consider introducing the concept of national projects, where the centre can take up projects that are beyond the capability of the state government. Among others, he appealed that the PM consider taking the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and Navi Mumbai International Airport as national projects.
He also emphasised the need for the special environmental regulation for the coastal freeway.
The CM urged the centre to announce a major national programme for slum-free cities.