The next few days will prove to be a testing time for motorists as yesterday, which was the eve of the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi, tossed up traffic jams on several arterial and main roads in the city. The situation could escalate on September 20, which is the day when households that follow the one-and-half day ritual immerse their Ganesh idols, may clash with the call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ by political parties.
A day before
People across the city are already in a festive mood and droves of residents were observed carrying their Ganpati idols home. Adding to the chaos on the roads were the hawkers selling their wares and haphazard parking of vehicles, which drastically affected vehicular movement at many locations.
Several major roads like Dr BA Ambedkar Road, Swami Vivekanand Road, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg and even the highways were similarly affected. Traffic moving towards south Mumbai had slowed to a crawl since early in the morning, as many massive Ganesh idols were being taken to their respective spots by road.
The most-affected areas were Dadar TT, Kabutarkhana, Hindmata, Parel, Borivli, Andheri, Wadala, Mahim and Chembur, because of people abruptly stopping their vehicles on the roads to buy items from roadside shops and hawkers. The chaotic traffic situation reflected on the Mumbai Traffic Police website as the situation was being updated in real time.
The call for ‘Bharat Bandh’ by a certain political parties, namely BJP and Janata Dal, is not likely to affect Mumbai, as Shiv Sena and MNS have decided not to participate due to Ganeshotsav. The call was made to protest the diesel price hike, subsidised LPG cylinders cap and Foreign Direct Investment in the retail sector. This bandh day also coincides with the one-and-half day immersion celebration, which many households follow.
Although public transport is not likely to be affected, truck and tempo volumes could be reduced as these drivers are also scheduled to go on a one-day strike to protest the diesel price hike.
“We are calling for a one-day token protest against diesel price hike from midnight of September 19. Those vehicles carrying essential commodities wouldn’t be affected. Our protest is coincidentally falling on the same day as the call for Bharat Bandh, but we are not part of it,” said Bal Malkit Singh, president, All India Motor Transport Congress. However, a member of the truck and tempo associations said that although their protest is not part of the ‘Bharat Bandh’, they were looking for a reason to merge their protest with something big.
Meanwhile, trucks and tempos that carry Ganesh idols during the festival have planned to go on an indefinite ‘chakka jam’ if the government fails to roll back the price hike on diesel or cut taxes.
Taxi and auto rickshaw unions claim that their vehicles will be operating as usual on September 20. “We will be running taxis as usual as many people immerse Ganesh idols on that day. The drivers might park their vehicles only if the situation turns violent due to the bandh, which presently isn’t expected,” said AL Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
BEST will be installing grills on their windows and windshields as a preventive measure.
The traffic police will monitor routes near beaches like Versova, Girgaum, Shivaji Park and others, and diversions have been planned if necessary. The 2,000 traders and 15,000 mathadi workers in the agriculture produce market committee (APMC) at Vashi have decided to down shutters on September 20 to protest FDI.