Mother of all jams

With parents flouting traffic rules and showing no civic sense, Sri Aurobindo Marg remains gridlocked for half an hour every working day due to the rush of cars and buses at Mother’s International School

The time is 1:44 pm and the lane in front of Mother’s International School is filling up with cars of all sizes that will pick up students waiting inside to go home. While some parents are standing nonchalantly chatting with one another, some are busy checking up their phones.

They don’t seem to know they are blocking the road and there is a huge pileup behind and beside their cars. The honking of horns has no effect, nor are they embarrassed about parking their cars in whichever style they like.

“Where else will we park and wait for our children if not here?” asks a lady who came to pick her daughter from the school, when asked why her car is parked diagonally.

Adding to the chaos, two of the four lane roads are occupied by cars waiting to go inside the school, leaving the rest of the vehicles in a bumper-to-bumper situation. This is the state of the Sri Aurobindo Marg where one of South Delhi’s most famous schools is situated.

One of the guards who is regulating traffic at the school’s main gate tells Patriot that there’s only one plan in place.

“We stop the regular ongoing traffic for about 5 minutes while the cars which go inside and pick up the students come out, and for another 5 minutes we don’t let the cars come out. So that the regular movement can be smooth,” says one of the guards at the school’s main gate.

Patriot observed the movement on the road in front of the school for over two hours on two days, and the contrast between ‘before’ and ‘after’ is obvious. Closing time is 1:45 pm for Classes I to VI, and 2 pm for higher classes.

There are no signboards saying ‘No Parking’ anywhere to be seen. Hence, at every step, you find cars parked haphazardly. On taking some more steps, one would also see an ice-cream cart. Whether this is an encroachment or not, a cart being allowed on such a heavy traffic stretch screams of police negligence.

Soon after 1:45 pm, a stream of children started coming out with their mothers, to their cars parked ‘safely’ on the lane adjacent to the school’s side path. The traffic is building up, and the scene is chaotic. It’s also time for the buses, parked both outside and inside the school compound, to drive kids to their respective destinations.

Basking in the afternoon sun, about 20 green low-floor DTC buses are parked behind one another, taking all the parking space of the entry road of Sarvodaya Enclave, where the school has another gate.

Just when the clock strikes 2, these buses are filled up with students and teachers, and in about 15 minutes, in one go, the buses leave the area, giving a feeling of a motorcade.

Right after reaching the intersection which is already jam-packed and at a standstill with regular traffic, the buses add more pressure to it.

Trilokh Nath, who’s taking an afternoon stroll says that this is a daily scene in the area. “But is there a solution to it, I don’t think so,” adds Nath.

“The buses take away all the parking space for at least an hour or so. If we think of park our cars in place of the buses, there’s a risk involved. The car could get scratched,” says Nath.

As if the buses leaving from the lane in front of Sarvodya Enclave blocking other traffic were not bad enough, another motorcade of buses joins at the intersection. These buses exit from a gate on Sri Aurobindo Marg.

For a moment, the green buses almost make the small cars which were leading to Lado Sarai invisible on this intersection.

As the school traffic violates the rights of other motorists on Sri Aurobindo Marg, there’s no sign of a traffic cop, neither on the intersection nor anywhere on the stretch outside Mother’s International School. This happened on both the days Patriot observed the condition of traffic.

Traffic inspector Mahavir who handles this area says, “Usually one or two constables do their duty on the red light at the intersection. By chance they had to go to some other area for duty.”

He continues, “To let the buses leave the area in one go, the rest of the traffic has to be halted for some time.” The inspector admitted that they should not allow parents to park their cars on Sri Aurobindo Marg, which is a notified no-parking zone, regardless of whether or not there is a no-parking sign-board in place.

“We have challaned a lot of vehicles in the past and continue to do so from time to time. But the situation reverts to the same state after a while,” says the inspector.

Even out of school hours, Sri Aurobindo Marg is usually a congested route, with average speed of vehicles at 8 km per hour, according to a study by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) in 2017.

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