Make Room


After the spine-chilling winter, Kashmir is readying for the summer. Almonds are blooming, so are tulips and an anticipated rush of tourists making authorities open the Mughal gardens early. Durbar in Jammu is wrapping up. Officials are mostly in Srinagar now for the ‘meetings’.

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By the next week, the Srinagar Municipality will have its men out on the roads to varnish the walls and the electric polls on Srinagar’s fashionable streets. Even the drains on MA Road and Residency Road will be cleaned, for the first time after April 2011. This exercise is aimed at readying Srinagar for the government. The mood is going to be peaceful, at least, if the security set up does not resort to overreactions as it did in previous years. Trade is expecting a good tourist year and the arrivals so far have indicated Kashmir will be crowded this year.

The Amarnath Shrine Board has already put in place the systems to manage pilgrims that reach at the peak of summer. All this will add to the massive traffic load in Srinagar that witnesses opening of more car showrooms than any addition to the road length. Given the expected pressures on the roads, a section of the well-meaning and well-earning section of Srinagar society has started a campaign to popularize the cycle.

While everybody is calculating the expected rush, there seems no visible sign of any exercise aimed at managing the massive traffic that Srinagar will have by early May. While the government is proudly talking about the tax it generates from the transport sector, the policy makers seems unconcerned over the requirement of additional parking spaces and the proper road management. Interestingly, the traffic police continue to be pathetically understaffed and for the last few years there has not been any addition to its strength.

There is a dire need for foreseeing a scenario when huge Volvo buses will get stuck in the old city roads on way to Sonamrag or at the Batamaloo crossing. Is there is a possibility of actually halting the major buses in the outskirts of the city so that the smaller transport takes care of the arrivals and also makes some money? Last week, Anil Ambani visited Srinagar and wanted to be in Pahalgam. But after getting stuck in a traffic jam for more than an hour, he and his family reported back to their Srinagar hotel. At the same time, there is an urgent requirement of supporting whole-heartedly the campaign that the tourism ministry has already launched against the fake items that are being sold in the name of Kashmir handicrafts.

While it is unfair to prevent the machine made Amratsari shawls from selling in Srinagar markets but there is an urgent requirement of protecting the Kashmir handicrafts by way of legislating on the issue and enforcing the laws of the land. While instances of over-charging are already there and need to be tackled, the tourist police needs to be empowered and adequately strengthened to take care of the unruly hoards that created lot of mess last summer at isolated places within and outside Srinagar.


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