The tightening of traffic restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus by Gurgaon and Ghaziabad administrations on their borders with Delhi led to chaos and traffic congestion on Friday.
This comes a day after the Haryana government issued fresh orders to seal the inter-state border to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Earlier this week, the Ghaziabad administration too made the inter-city movement stricter after it reported a spike in coronavirus cases.
Although Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon fall under different states, a large number of people stay in these cities, but work in Delhi or vice versa.
"There was a massive chaos this morning with traffic jams as the police were not allowing people to cross the border from either sides," Ruchir Sharma, who stays in Uttam Nagar in west Delhi but works with a diagnostics laboratory in Gurgaon, said.
"The new directive (of tightening the restrictions) came late night, so no one had clarity and instructions were not issued to the police. I am not sure if they are allowing essential services people or not but to get to the check post after clearing the whole queue was a long wait so I decided to come back," Sharma added.
Those travelling to and from Ghaziabad said the checking had become very strict.
Rajendra Singh Yadav, who works in a medical store in Ghaziabad and resides in Shahdara in east Delhi, said the checking by police in Ghaziabad led to traffic congestion on the border.
Assistant Superintendent of Ghaziabad Police Keshav Kumar said that entry will be allowed for only those involved in essential services. He acknowledged that there was heavy traffic on the borders due to checking by the police.
Haryana's Home Minister Anil Vij justified strictness on the state's borders with the national capital, saying if the state does not take such measures its coronavirus cases would be at par with Delhi. He has cited a sharp increase in cases in the Haryana districts adjoining Delhi for the decision.
"I regularly monitor and keep a close watch on the situation. Here we are trying to save each life, if we do not maintain strictness on the borders and allow free movement of people, then I can say undoubtedly our cases would be at par with Delhi. I have to stop free movement of people," said Vij.
The Delhi traffic police alerted commuters taking the route to plan their travel accordingly.
"Traffic is moving very slow in the carriageway from Delhi towards Haryana due to checking by Haryana Police at Singhu border," it tweeted.
Similar was the case with Gautam Buddh Nagar. In an open letter to Noida and Greater Noida residents, Suhas L Y on Thursday stressed the need for maintaining the status quo on the Noida-Delhi border.
"These decisions are being taken after looking at the epidemiological data, prevailing situation in the neighbouring places and contact tracing of previous Covid positive patients. Therefore, the pertinent point to note is, what cost in terms of convenience are we willing to incur for the health of and well-being of the community and vice versa," he wrote.
Commuters had to face major obstacles, with some even being forced to apply for 'personal leaves' as they could not reach their work stations.
Seema Mishra (name changed) said she could not travel to work in Gurgaon from her residence in west Delhi because of the restrictions.
"Our company recently asked us to report at work but has given no guidelines on how to deal with the border sealing. No public transport is available. Now if I take a cab and get stuck on the border, that would be a major trouble," Mishra said.
"What increases the problem is that the office has asked me to apply for personal leave if I cannot reach work. This whole week I applied for leave. Some of my colleagues who are supposed to be on duty next week also fear the same experience," she added.
Noida resident Sumit Chauhan said in absence of metro services and the hassle at state borders, he is forced to not report to work in Gurgaon.
"I would take the metro to reach office. But all public transport is shut. My office has resumed. I tried to go in an auto-rickshaw, but there is UP-Delhi border and then Delhi-Haryana border. I gave up midway and returned home. It was too much of a stress commuting," said Chauhan, a resident of Sector 74.
Bhavna Bhatti, who travels to Gurgaon from Delhi, said the chaos was due to late night instructions as neither employers nor employees were prepared.
"My office is calling minimum staff on rotational basis. They could have called someone else other than me had they known but half of the day had gone struggling at the border. I then returned home," she said.
Commuters said pedestrians too were not allowed to cross the border, leading to protests and heated exchange with police officials.