Dahisar checkpoint.
Dahisar checkpoint.
BL Soni

Mumbaikars defied the lockdown regulations and chose to step out despite section 144 being imposed in the city. Heavy vehicular movement was reported on the Western Express Highway (WEH) and the Eastern Express Highway (EEH). However, traffic police officials said that traffic was considerably less on the internal roads of Mumbai.

Nandkumar Thakur, deputy commissioner of police (traffic headquarters), informed that the number of vehicles on city roads dropped. However, WEH continued to be congested. Similarly, Dahisar, Vashi and Mulund check naka remained congested, mostly on the south-bound arm, said Thakur.

A senior official from the northern region said that Dahisar check naka, a key entry point to the city, saw about 10,000 vehicles cross it by 10 am, which pushed the police to place a checkpoint there. Similarly, an officer from the eastern suburbs said that Mulund check naka saw more than usual traffic in the first half of Thursday. However, traffic dropped later in the day. Thursday being the first day of the restrictions, cops were being lenient and letting motorists off with a warning.

Unusual traffic was also seen on the WEH around 3.30pm on Thursday; more than the normal number of vehicles were observed on the road. The checkpoints were later shifted to different locations on the north-bound road of WEH in the evening to crackdown on travellers not under the essential service category, said traffic officials.

Thakur, who also holds the charge of the central traffic region, said, "The vehicular movement on central Mumbai roads, like Dadar, Worli and Matunga, was relatively less. However, a number of motorists not working in the essential service industry have stepped out and caused congestion." Dahisar, Vashi and Mulund check naka too observed major congestion, mostly on the south-bound arm, added DCP Thakur.

While police stations too have erected checkpoints across the city to crackdown on violators, only private vehicles were checked on day one. "Checkpoints were congested. Otherwise, the traffic across the city has come down a notch," DCP Thakur said.

"Private vehicles are largely being checked at checkpoints, which is one of the main reasons for the congestion. If a motorist is found travelling despite being a non-essential service worker, the vehicle is parked along the road and the motorists is penalised, which is causing congestion and bumper-to-bumper traffic," said Somnath Gharge, DCP (traffic western).

Since it is the first day of the new restrictions and people are still not clear on what is allowed and what is not, people tend to go on about their normal routine and get penalised, added Gharge. Meanwhile, SV Road, Link Road and other interior roads saw comparatively less traffic on Thursday.

Mumbai Police, which has been registering lockdown violation offences since March last year, has so far registered 29,593 offences of lockdown violations and booked 60,232 people. On Wednesday, the police booked 37 people and registered 21 offences. All have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code for disobedience of orders promulgated by public servants (section 188).

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