Don’t Mess with it

Mohammed Ahseem

Traffic business in the state is getting murkier, day after day. The new avatar of traffic management system put in place in the state, especially in and around Srinagar city doesn’t seem to get hold of the traffic pulse. Traffic jams at several entry points to Srinagar city continue unabated, even though visibility of men in blues has increased manifold. Commuters shuttling between the towns and Srinagar city ironically take it as part of their destiny to suffer in endless traffic jams especially near Pantha chowk and Parimpora. The situation within the city is worse. The signaling system based on triple lights of red, orange and green, in the absence of a backend regulatory and controlling mechanism turn things topsy-turvy at times. In the absence of sufficient parking lots in the city, road spaces continue to be occupied by standing vehicles. The situation around Dalgate, Regal Chowk, Hari Singh High Street present a horrible scene during rush hours. The siren of police recovery vans has not been able to inculcate traffic discipline among callous car owners.

Lately the State Transport Department has decided to shift over to the regime of High Security Registration Plates (HSRP). These plates have an inbuilt 7 digit unique laser code, self-destructive windshield sticker and a non-removable snap lock. These plates once fitted in a vehicle cannot be tampered with, except for the registered agency authorized by the state to deal with these. The HSRP will bring in uniformity throughout the state and create efficiency in the tracking of stolen vehicles. The surveillance of erring drivers at traffic signals will be much more professional and reliable.

As per the reports, a contract, worth Rs. 20 crores, for manufacturing and installation of these HSRPs was initially assigned to Promuk Hoffman Private limited in January 2012. However for reasons known better to Transport Ministry, the deal was snapped in May and on the  same day, the contract was allotted to another firm namely Real Mazon India Limited, a private firm doing business in many states of India. Reports further suggest that the concerned agency Real Mazon India Limited has been blacklisted in a couple of states for poor performance.

In a state with an ever shrinking job market, the transport department is all set to take away the livelihood of around ten thousand people engaged in number plate making business. The centrally sponsored schemes like Udaan and Himayat implemented for creating jobs for the unemployed, essentially aim at the skill development of the unemployed youth in the state. Unfortunately, our own people in the transport ministry are engaged in reversing it, by promoting unreflective policies. The transport ministry should have mooted a comprehensive plan by creating a kind of consortium of local number plate makers and promoted it to take up the endeavor. This would have helped those already in the business and even created many more jobs.

The number of vehicles coming on the roads is ever increasing and managing the ever surging traffic is going to be mammoth task for state agencies in future. Piece-meal policies mooted in individual departments of the state without consulting others to address one aspect of the problem are never going to work. Rather what is needed is a comprehensive transport policy, based on the feedback from all the stake holders that would address the multifaceted issue of the ever increasing number of vehicles in the state.

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