UoP-police ego tussle creates massive jam
Thousands of Punekars were stranded in a massive traffic jam on Senapati Bapat Road and Ganeshkhind Road leading to University of Pune (UoP), which was hosting its 107th convocation ceremony. Reason? Not an accident, but ego clash, poor planning and lack of coordination between UoP officials and Pune traffic police. Moreover, both cops and varsity officials blamed each other for not sharing proper information about the huge crowd that comes every year for the ceremony.
Dead stop: Thousands of students and commuters suffered due to heavy traffic jams on Monday morning. Pic/Mohan Patil
Officially, UoP had invited 70,699 students for the function, who had proceeded towards the campus on Monday morning along with family members, and friends. As a result, the number of people pouring in on the two roads leading to the campus witnessed long lines of cars and bikes during the peak hours —between 9am and 11am.
Sources say, UoP has in the past rejected the request of Pune traffic police to allow vehicles to pass through the Millennium Gate for reducing congestion on Aundh Road. After this refusal, traffic police banned the right turn of vehicles to UoP campus on Ganeshkhind Road during morning peak hours (9am to 11am), which led to easing of vehicular movement on both the roads, but it increased the time taken by UoP staff and faculty to reach their office.
Meanwhile, UoP had installed biometric attendance system and the staff started blaming the ‘right-turn ban’ for any delays. Varsity officials recently approached commissioner of police Gulabrao Pol and asked him to remove prohibition. Pol had then asked deputy commissioner of police (traffic) Vishwas Pandhare to look into the matter and take action accordingly.
Pandhare communicated to university officials that they would take any decision only after conducting fresh trials at the junction. After two days of trial and testing, traffic police again refused to lift the ban on right turn for vehicles at the UoP junction.
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In light of the convocation ceremony, the varsity had written to traffic department and Chatuhshrungi police, requesting them to deploy enough personnel to manage the huge crowd.
UoP’s chief security officer MS Kedari said, “We had written to both police commissioner and traffic police, informing them about possible turn-up of thousands of students at the varsity campus on Monday. Hence, we had demanded additional manpower to maintain law and order, as well as traffic, in and outside the university campus.”
“Chatuhshrungi police station had provided adequate security to our campus throughout the day. But, on the other hand, traffic police department had taken its duty casually. Traffic police just did not entertain our request sent last week to provide adequate manpower,” Kedari alleged.
UoP has three main gates to its campus – the one on Ganeshkhind Road, Khadki gate near IUCAA, and Millennium gate on Aundh Road near Chatuhshrungi police station. On days like the convocation ceremony, UoP could have asked students of different departments like engineering and commerce to come to different gates to enter the campus. DCP Pandhare said, “Decentralising the entry of students at UoP campus can work wonders, and will not create problems for citizens during rush hours.”
>> Senapati Bapat Road and Ganeshkhind Road were affected
>> Varsity says it had written to traffic department and Chatuhshrungi police about the ceremony
No of students officially invited by UoP for the convocation ceremony