KL NEWS NETWORK
For most of its history, Kashmir has remained bifurcated on the odd and even basis, both in governance and politics. So why chase the beaten path as some policymakers – blindly chasing Delhi – are suggesting from their ivory towers. Some even suggest opening schools quite early to ease the burden.
Issues are real. The flyover is in making and it is in the most crucial phase. Using the twin tracks for movement of traffic is highly risky. But the problem is how to manage increasingly surging traffic, especially after the caravans of Darbar have joined the messy roads for the summer stint. Tensions have increased after the Mehjoor Nagar Bridge – that was helping small traffic to exit towards south – was declared unsafe.
After interacting with people at different levels and different areas of Srinagar, here is what the vox populi for better traffic management in Srinagar is. The city has few 100 thousands vehicles on roads on day-to-day basis and the hospitality sector is adding to the floating population and the traffic. Following it would ease the situation, especially because London and the Mumbai main have no wider roads than Srinagar.
1. For all these years, people have been telling officials that if there is a report of a grenade, the government moves a battalion to recover it. But why does not government understand that a 400-strong traffic police can never manage such a huge traffic, especially after the diversions in south of the city, get into the maze of gullies and by-lanes. Traffic Police need more than a battalion now. Can’t government depute one armed battalion for Srinagar this season and deploy them to manage traffic?
2. For the next six months, government is going to be major pressure because every officer has a car and most of the officers are too scared to move without their escorts. For a Kilometre between Gupkar and Secretariat, why should ministers move with huge cavalcades? Even Chief Minister should volunteer to reduce the number of vehicles that form her cavalcade especially if it is within the ‘power road’.
Most of the officers live in designated areas in the city. Why cannot the government get them the way they are being driven to their offices in Delhi? The government must reduce the usage of exclusive transport as far as possible. There is a requirement of creating some sort of a policy for that. There is also a possibility of governance structure starting the official day early. It can be done because the secretariat works for five days only.
3. Restore the dignity of roads. Let roads be for walking and movement and not hawking and obstruction. Recovering the roads, especially in Lal Chowk, Goni Khan, Hari Singh High Street and Batamaloo Bus Stand is key to the smooth movement of the society. In certain areas, even retailers have started encroaching upon part of the road which should stop immediately.
4. No vehicle should be parked on the road. People spending a fortune on fuel avoid using the parking lots. Even the Parking facility in the rear of Press Colony is not even used one-tenth. In certain areas where similar facilities do not exist, authorities must explore possibilities of creating one. In some cases, people even don’t know where the parking spaces are. ‘Pointers’, in shape of boards may be installed on roads to show the way to Parking slots.
5. There is lot of crisis in managing public transport and the auto-rickshaws. They need not to be punished but counselled. First, no passenger bus should leave its mother stand unless it is sure that it does not require “creating gap” for overloading the vehicle. It is an old practice with matador drivers who usually move with a 25-30 KM per hour speed on roads where they have enough space.
Second, they need to be educated about one thing – let them stop only at designated places. They need to be suggested, forcefully, that the bus conductor should collect the fair only in the bus and not once the passenger de-board. Once the passengers start paying for coming out, it pains hundreds of vehicles following that vehicle.
Let traffic police announce a particular speed with which the vehicles would move but that can be follow up to making roads clear and usable. Let the loaded trucks of all kinds have a sort of ban on movement for most of the day.
6. Let the government designate somebody who will foot the distance that traffic uses after diversion was announced. Take the case of Batamaloo, the locality of Srinagar – with narrow roads and a big vast heart – that is playing a crucial role in easing the traffic.
It has two major problems.
Firstly, the roads that commuters are using are bumpy and potholed. Nobody has even tried to even go for basic levelling – not to talk of macadam. This slows traffic massively. PCR-Rek Chowk link road is in shambles and its one tube has been blocked by the PCR itself.
Secondly, the problem is that Batamaloo gets traffic from eight routes – three from Bypass, two from Rambagh Bund, one each from Magarmal bus stand and the civil secretariat. So, where should it go because exits are being used as entry points as well? If authorities manage Batamaloo well, half of the tension is over.
7. Private schools which are located on the impacted routes would require special systems to manage their fleets. Biscoe – Mallinson, for instance, must utilize parking facility of Press Colony near Lal Chowk and the foot bridge parking on the other side of the river. Let the twin schools close the frontal gates opening into Lal Chowk.
8. The biggest problem that traffic in Srinagar has faced for decades is the movement of the army convoys. They move whenever they feel pleased. That might have been an option at one point of time but not anymore. Traffic Police must sit with the bosses and get a clear idea of when they move and how. There are up and down movements from north to centre and south of Kashmir. It must stick to a schedule.
9. With the pressure inducing the belly in the south-Lal Chowk corridor, the bottlenecks in Parimpora and Pantha Chowk are still a crisis.
Pantha Chowk is the same place where Anil Ambani was caught in a traffic jam two years back when he was on way to Pahalgam, a trip he cancelled later. This is a major headache for the hospitality sector, especially in evenings. Though certain stretches were improved, it has not led to any significant improvement in the movement of traffic. If officials manage this part, part of the south city traffic, mostly from Pulwama – coming through Newa, Chadoora and even Rawalpora can be diverted into the city through Sonawar side. It will improve better movement and reduce the pressure on Jawahar Nagar – Batamaloo corridor. During peak morning hours, people headed for airport, VVIPs specially, can take that route as well.
10. Qamarwari-Parimpora-Aawrein corridor is in real mess. Though the authorities had permitted using Chattabal lanes, it is not effective because the two way traffic is permitted. While the officials map push traffic into the localities, it lacks a proper plan to offer adequate exist as well. It needs immediate clearing of roads in Karan Nagar – Shaheed Gunj belt.
Implementing these suggestions may help kids sleep more though “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”.