Long queues of vehicles choked the roads in parts of the national capital on Monday as the Delhi Police kept the Singhu and Tikri borders closed and heightened checking at other places in the wake of the ongoing protests by farmers.
Both the border points at Singhu and Tikri remained closed with the farmers rejecting the Centre’s offer to hold talks over the new farm laws opposed by them.
The closure of borders has also resulted in heavy traffic on other alternate routes between Delhi and Haryana.
The Delhi Traffic Police tweeted, “Singhu Border is still closed from both sides. Please take alternate route. Traffic has been diverted from Mukarba Chowk & GTK road. Traffic is very very heavy. Please avoid outer ring road from signature bridge to Rohini & vice versa, GTK road, NH 44 & Singhu borders.”
In another tweet, it said Tikri Border is also closed for traffic movement while Jharoda, Dhansa, Daurala Jhatikara, Badusari, Kapashera, Rajokri NH 8, Bijwasan-Bajghera, Palam Vihar and Dundahera borders were open and available to Haryana.
Policemen in large numbers were deployed on the DelhiGurgaon border and vehicle checking was intensified.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southwest) Ingit Pratap Singh said, “We have not received any inputs on farmers coming here but as a precautionary measure, we have deployed our forces.”
The Gurugram Traffic Police also alerted commuters about the congestion.
“Traffic congestion has been reported on NH-48 near Sarhol Toll towards Delhi due to slow entry of vehicles into Delhi. @TrafficGGM is on the spot to facilitate the traffic. Inconvenience caused is highly regretted,” it tweeted from its official handle.
The agitating farmers demanding scrapping of the new farm laws have also warned to close all five entry points to the national capital. After a meeting of over 30 farmer groups on Sunday, their representatives said they will not move to the Burari ground for their protest as suggested by the Centre. They said the farmers will not accept any conditional dialogue and will block all five entry points to Delhi.
The supply of vegetables and fruits to the national capital from other states has been impacted and it has reduced by half at Azadpur Mandi, Delhi’s largest wholesale market, due to the protest by farmers at the Singhu and Tikri border points of the city for the last five days.
Vendors in other parts of Delhi said due to curtailed supply, the wholesale rates of seasonal vegetables has gone up by Rs 50- Rs 100.
They said the roadblock at Singhu and Tikri border points has impacted the supply of vegetables and fruits from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. The arrival of vegetables and fruits to Delhi’s largest wholesale market at Azadpur has been reduced by half due to the closed borders, said Adil Khan, chairman Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee at Azadpur.
“During normal days, around 2,500 trucks of vegetables and fruits used to arrive at Azadpur Mandi from other states. The number has come down to around 1,000 trucks now and if the borders remained closed for a few more days, the situation will worsen,” Khan said.
He, however, said the rates have not registered any significant rise so far because local produce and stocks are being sold. Some other vendors said the wholesale rates of seasonal vegetables has already gone up by Rs 50- Rs 100 due to the short supply.
They said due to obstructions at the border, the trucks are finding it difficult to reach Delhi and those somehow managing to do so are getting delayed by several hours.
“The supply and rates will have further impact if the borders are not opened and traffic is brought back to normal,” they said.
Gopal, a wholesale commission agent of green pea at Azadpur market, said supplies have drastically reduced. Normally 40-45 trucks of peas from Punjab’s AmritsarHosiarpur belt would arrive on a given day in winters but it has reduced to 15-20 trucks now, he said.
“The rates have gone up due to reduced supply and hike in transport charges that have increased by around Rs 10,000 per truck,” he said.
The trucks from Punjab carrying fruits and vegetables that would normally take around 9-10 hours for a trip to Delhi, now takes 12-14 hours due to closure of Singhu border, said another wholesaler.
The reduced supply has also pushed retail rates in the markets of the city. The rates of potatoes, tomatoes and onion that were already high, have relatively been less affected, said the wholesalers.
“The major supply of potatoes and onions to Delhi are from states like Mahrashtra, Karnatka and MP and the routes to these states are not affected by the farmers’ stir. ”However, supply of vegetables and fruits from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir has been affected,” said Hakim Rahman, a wholesaler at Okhla Mandi.
Some wholesalers said the supply was badly impacted for two days of the farmers’ protest but now it has been restored as the trucks were using alternate entry points and routes to enter the city from other states.
“The supply had reduced initially for two-three days as the farmers blocked the Singhu and Tikri borders. But, now, the trucks are using other roads and avoiding highways although it has resulted in longer hours of travel and increased transportation charges,” said a vegetable commission agent Srikant Mishra at Azadpur Mandi.
He said the supply of new crop of potatoes has also been hit. A fruit wholesaler at Azadpur Mandi, R K Bhatia, said the supply of fruits like apple and Kinnow was hit but rates were more or less the same. Apple in Kashmir was not good this season, so rates were already high and demand was less, he said.
~With inputs from PTI~