It is painful to travel from south to centre or north in Kashmir, quite literally. With highway connecting Srinagar to Qazigund and other peripheral areas in the south in mess, it is nothing less than a bumpy ride of commuters. In last few years there were many half hearted initiatives from successive governments to make these roads worth travelling, but nothing has improved, except a few cosmetic interventions here and there. Take for instance the digging of road near BB Cant where new drainage system was planned.
After the digging was done, the cavities left behind were not filled ever since, making that part of the road unmotorable. It is no revelation that we have already narrow roads, shrinking them further by digging and then not filling it up, only adds to the commuter’s woes.
A few hundred meters down south, precisely near poet Mehjoor’s mausoleum in Athwajan, a fifty meter road was laid, re-laid, and then washed away at least twenty times since September 2014. Currently is a motorist’s nightmare. One has to literally go through hell, a get shaken out of his comfort, to cross that stretch. One can only imagine what a patient, or an expectant mother, must have to go through to cross that stretch.
From that point onwards, till you reach DPS in Panthachowk, it is all the same. There is no respite from it. One thing a common man fails to understand is why government or the people entrusted with the upkeep of roads in Kashmir chose business season (from March to October) to alter the road network, lay wires, pipes, drains etc. Why this work can’t be done when there is less rush on the roads. Why it has to be peak tourist season always?
A tourist from Bihar, who got stuck near Panthachowk for two hours in traffic jam was shocked to know that pipes are laid for drainage during peak traffic hours. He asked his driver, don’t you people work at night?
With weather at our side during summers, why can’t we revive the culture of working in shifts on such pressing developmental issues? If we can have shift based work on Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh flyover, why not everywhere else?
It would save commuters precious time, which nobody seems to care about in Kashmir.
The condition of roads inside the city is not rosy either. Take for instance the road outside Chief Justice’s official residence in Sonwar. This road is the lifeline of who-is-who of power structure in Kashmir; still nobody pays any heed to it. Interestingly, this piece of road, a few hundred meters in length, was raid last winter under much media fanfare by last R&B minister promising breakthrough technology which will make it last for at least 30 years. But it did not survive even 30 days. When it comes to roads, people are literally taken for a ride by the people who are responsible for their maintenance. Only difference, this ride is a bumpy one.