Utter Chaos and Dangerous Road Conditions on NH48 || Who is accountable for all the lives being put on Risk and all the people stranded here in miles long jams?

On Sunday night (9th October 2022), we were on our way back from a wonderful vacation in Rajasthan. After crossing Jaipur, the highway was in terrible shape with deep potholes and it was drizzling as well, so we were trying to drive at a steady speed of 60km/h. When we were about 120 kms from home, the ETA on Google Maps stopped moving. We attributed it to our slow speed, failing to realize that Google's algorithm had probably been broken because of a situation on the highway ahead that Google wasn't able to comprehend. We kept moving ahead in blissful ignorance. But this turned out to be one of the worst decisions we had taken in the history of our road trips.     At 8:30pm, we were a few kilometers from Rewari when we ran into the jam. The vehicles kept moving slowly so we still did not suspect that we were entering a nightmare. The ETA on google maps for our home in Noida was 3 hours, which seemed okay. It was only when we had moved only about 500 meters in half-an-hour, did we start getting worried. Even then we thought that we might get a little late. Must be some vehicle breakdown on the road ahead and the traffic will soon get cleared. But we were way off the mark.

On Sunday night (9th October 2022), we were on our way back from a wonderful vacation in Rajasthan. After crossing Jaipur, the highway was in terrible shape with deep potholes and it was drizzling as well, so we were trying to drive at a steady speed of 60km/h. When we were about 120 kms from home, the ETA on Google Maps stopped moving. We attributed it to our slow speed, failing to realize that Google's algorithm had probably been broken because of a situation on the highway ahead that Google wasn't able to comprehend. We kept moving ahead in blissful ignorance. But this turned out to be one of the worst decisions we had taken in the history of our road trips. 


At 8:30pm, we were a few kilometers from Rewari when we ran into the jam. The vehicles kept moving slowly so we still did not suspect that we were entering a nightmare. The ETA on google maps for our home in Noida was 3 hours, which seemed okay. It was only when we had moved only about 500 meters in half-an-hour, did we start getting worried. Even then we thought that we might get a little late. Must be some vehicle breakdown on the road ahead and the traffic will soon get cleared. But we were way off the mark. 

By 9:30pm when we were still inching along (ETA on google was still 3 hours) and people had started turning off their vehicles and getting out to check the situation ahead, did I start searching Twitter. There I discovered some really dreadful tweets. Apparently people had been stuck in this jam for 8-9 hours for past few days (unseasonal continuous rains probably contributing to the situation). I started retweeting those tweets and in one of the retweets, I also added that we too were stuck in a similar situation. 

Google in the meanwhile kept suggesting some detours through some unlit, secluded looking roads that we were afraid to take. And we were still in denial about the situation. Maps still showed an ETA of 3 hours via NH48, and unable to believe that such a situation could be allowed to prevail for several days, we stayed on NH48. Taking the detours that Google was suggesting wasn't an easy decision for two reasons - it was dark and those alternate roads looked dangerous, and most of the other cars were also sticking to NH48. I think no one expected this to happen in today's world. 

At about 1pm, when we had only moved around 4kms from the original point where we got stuck, I tweeted to PMOIndia, PM Narendra Modi, Office of Nitin Gadkari, and Mr Nitin Gadkari to take note of this situation and help people out. I also noticed that several other people had also done the same. But there was no response. Even when we tagged the news channels NDTV and AajTak, no one took heed. The situation of NH48 wasn't being discussed anywhere. It was unbelievable. 


I also came across tweets from people who had lost their loved ones in accidents on this highway, and it was so heartbreaking. The fact is that whenever there's an accident, the drivers are persecuted, but no one holds the authorities who are responsible for the upkeep of the roads  accountable for incidents that are caused because of bad conditions of the road. 



At around 1PM, we were practically stuck when  I noticed a response to one of my tweets. One tweeter had apparently been stuck in the same jam the previous night and offered a very helpful suggestion. 

 

 However, it wasn't easy to take this detour. Truck drivers had parked their trucks all over the road and there was no space for smaller cars to move freely. And whenever the traffic moved a little, there was such a mad rush that all the cuts to the service lane were blocked. However we now had a solution in mind. And that gave us some hope, in an otherwise hopeless situation. 

We made several attempts to take a cut to service lane, so that we could take one of the cuts to Pataudi. At one point when we managed, a truck driver warned us that there is a deep pothole ahead and our car won't be able to pass through it. We turned around, hoping to take the previous cut, but the driver of one of the cars coming from that direction told us that the previous cut to Pataudi was blocked. 

By now, both of us was on the verge of a breakdown and had to keep each other motivated and positive. All around us there were vehicles with toddlers, babies, elderly people on board. All stuck in the same situation as we were. There were vehicles attempting dangerous cross overs from one side of the road to the other in an attempt to escape the situation. Overall it was a desperate situation and we are eternally thankful to the force that kept us going at this point.

At about 3pm we came across a cut that as per Google Map led to Pataudi. The road was dark and no other vehicle was taking it. But we were in such desperate situation that we decided to risk it. Telling each other that everything will be fine and we will be home safe and sound, we started driving down the road. We found one truck parked on the side of the road and checked with the driver if the road indeed led to Pataudi. He told us that he himself was following Google Maps, but their company used this road every day to Pataudi and we were on the right path. 

After a couple of turns, we came across 5-6 cars led by one truck, rushing down the path. From the rush that they were in, it was clear that they had just managed to escape the jam. So we joined them. We also realized that they had probably taken the same cut that one of the car drivers had told us was blocked. 

Being in the company of other vehicles instilled new energy in us. We followed them till Pataudi, on to old Gurugram. And there we bid each other a silent goodbye. One of the cars overtook us at this point and I still remember the look in the driver's eyes. It was as if he had escaped a nightmare. There were children in his car and I could imagine how difficult it must have been for them. 

We reached home at 5:30am in the morning and thanked the tweeter who had offered the helpful advice. Otherwise God knows till when we would have been stuck there. We still do not completely understand what could cause such a bad traffic jam. rainwater flooded potholes/craters could be one reason. But it was an absolute standstill and there was no sign of any traffic management or policing. At one point some policemen seemed to be making a half-hearted attempt to divert some traffic to the service lane, but there was no warning of the dire situation awaiting people who chose to continue down the highway or merge back into it. Also, till today, there is no response from any of the authorities tagged in those calls for help. It is strange that while are targeting to become a developed country, the authorities remain blind to the commuters' plight despite collecting toll charges. How hopeless is this!   

Our advice to people returning from Bikaner, Jodhpur, Ajmer or Jaipur is to avoid taking the Jaipur Delhi Highway. Either take an alternate route or one of the internal roads especially near Rewari. And drive very, very carefully because the condition of this once beautiful highway is pretty dangerous. 

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