Green Signal

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Traffic in Kashmir is a mess. It has been so for a long time. The authorities blame it on bad driver behavior and lack of traffic sense among people. Oh! not to forget the lack of roads. Authorities always blame the people who suffer when the traffic does not move, never taking into account that they are the ones who suffer. The explanations the traffic authorities put forward may not be to justify the mess but they do exonerate themselves of the responsibility of setting things right. The people, however, may not be that kind towards them. They suffer silently but know that the authorities don’t care.

Everywhere in the world traffic is regulated with modern technology and trained manpower – the traffic police. There are no such problems as bad driver behavior and lack of traffic sense. Still they have systems and men in place. In Kashmir these don’t exist and the mess in the traffic is unfairly blamed on the people.

It is not that Jammu and Kashmir does not have the resources or the manpower. But it apparently lacks the will to tackle the problem that confronts millions of commuters every day. The heart of Srinagar city, Lal Chowk, throughout the day, seems to be mired in a perpetual traffic jam. Many other roads in the city also witness long traffic jams. The so called highways, both in the north and south of Srinagar, are clogged for hours especially during the rush hours. Even the small towns are afflicted with this mess. Forget about modern systems of traffic management. The traffic police department is very understaffed. Traffic police are a rare sight in the city and the highways.  And the few who are on the roads seem to believe that their only duty is to slap challans and meet the revenue targets set by their department.

Jammu and Kashmir has the highest number of police-to-public ratio – more than eight times the national average. The government’s inability to spare a few hundred of them for managing traffic can’t be justified! The government’s priorities seem to be wrong. But in a place where even small time bureaucrats get escort vehicles, who clear the traffic for their passage would not see or understand the inconvenience a common man is put through every day.

Lately, we are seeing some good signs regarding traffic management. First and foremost it is the acknowledgement of the mess by the authorities. Thank heavens they could see – the problem. The traffic department, to start with, is installing traffic signals at various places in Srinagar. The signals will help to a large extent and bring some sanity in the mad traffic in the state’s summer capital. It needs to followed by making more manpower available to the traffic police, creating more parking spaces and extending the traffic signals to other roads and highways. Let this be the green signal to a better traffic in Kashmir.

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About Author

A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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