Pandal hoppers brought traffic movement in South Kolkata and its adjacent areas to a standstill on Thursday, observed as Panchami of Durga Puja.
In the past two or three years, people have started visiting puja mandaps on Chaturthi itself. The trend has changed as earlier maximum turn out in the mandaps was expected on Astami and Nabami.
With the change in popular trend, police have started deploying additional personnel at all the necessary areas from Chaturthi itself.
In spite of this, there were traffic congestions in the areas that are hosting large-scale pujas and also in the areas where office complexes are situated.
Thousands of people started pouring into the Puja mandaps of Deshapriya Park, Suruchi Sangha, Ekdalia Evergreen and Singhi Park in South Kolkata.
When pandal hoppers were herding towards different Puja mandaps, office-goers were returning home.
With only six per cent road space in the city, it became difficult for vehicles that came into the city to pass alongside pandal hoppers, notwithstanding the buses and other vehicles that regularly ply in the city.
Though not as bad as South Kolkata, traffic movement in some parts of North Kolkata was also affected.
According to a senior police officer, all offices except state government offices and banks will remain open till Friday.
Even some English medium schools will remain open. This is leading to a chaos and is delaying people by hours from reaching their destinations.
However, the situation would be normalised from Saturday as offices and the schools will remain closed. There is, thus, not much to panic considering that there will be traffic congestion only during the puja.
Traffic on some major thoroughfares was affected in the evening. People heading towards the city from Science City via Diamond Harbour Road were inconvenienced.
Traffic sergeants diverted vehicles at two to three points in South Kolkata to keep the vehicles moving instead of getting stuck at one place.
In a bid to avoid more congestion, police earmarked the areas where pandal hoppers were allowed to park their vehicles. No one was allowed to park their cars elsewhere.
Deputy Commissioners of police were found managing the crowd. At the same time, stringent measures have been taken to avoid any untoward incident during the puja.
However, many people who were returning home after office were seen visiting Puja mandaps after
getting down from buses when they got stuck in traffic congestion.