Three day Chhath puja, largely celebrated by migrants from UP and Bihar, this year added to the woes of the commuters as the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road was chocked due to high rush of migrants on the Sutlej bank.
In the past, the rush was divided between Sidhwan Canal and Sutlej bank but this year Sidhwan canal was parched as the canal authorities did not continue water supply to the canal. Thus, more than 2 lakh migrant women accumulated on the Sutlej banks for performing the rituals.
The festival which started on Sunday ended on Tuesday morning with final prayers. Raghuram, a labourer from Bihar, whose wife too went to Sutlej for performing the rituals, said, “This year I am surprised why Sidhwan Canal was not supplied water. The authorities knew that it is big festival for us but still arrangements were not made adequately. We had no option but to move to the Sutlej banks and thus the chaos was created there.”
Reportedly, another cause for the chaos at Ludhiana-Jalandhar road was the rush of the vehicles’ migrants used to reach the banks. Thousands of taxis, auto-rickshaws and cycles led to the traffic snarls.
This happened even after some migrants went to a nearby Killa Raipur river for offering prayers. “We knew that Sutlej would be choked with people as Sidhwan canal is parched, so we decided to go to Killa Raipur river which is a less known place,” said Chandni Devi, a housemaid from Uttar Pradesh, in the city for the past 20 years.
When contacted, Ludhiana Police Commissioner Ishwar Singh said, “It is true that the area was heavily crowded. But we deployed adequate police personnel to manage the traffic. We started diverting the traffic to avoid the inconvenience to the commuters passing from the highway. The rush was managed by Monday night and the situation was normal on Tuesday morning.”
Surinder Saini, executive engineer, incharge of canals and drains, Punjab department of irrigation, said, “We were unable to release the water into Sidhwan Canal due to the ongoing Expressway project (from Ferozepur road up to Doraha) construction.”