Wrong priorities of Traffic Department, occupying of roads by street vendors and ever increasing number of vehicles has created chaotic traffic situation in Srinagar city. “The Traffic Department is behaving like a revenue generating department. They have limited their work to just filing challans and collecting fines and pay little heed to improving quality of traffic services”, A Traffic Department official told KNS on condition of anonymity. He said officials deployed at various spots have a predetermined quota of challans to file per day and their attention remains on just completing their quotas. “I suggest that apart from collecting fines Traffic Department should also concentrate on improving quality of traffic services so that common people heave a sigh of relief,” he said. It is to mention here that the roads that were built many decades ago were not widened to accommodate increasing vehicular traffic. According to official figures available with KNS 50,000 new vehicles are added to the road traffic every year in Kashmir. “The narrow roads and increased traffic is the main cause of traffic bottlenecks at several places in Srinagar city. One fourth of total space is allocated to roads, which is mandatory for a modern city but Srinagar city is a far cry from this figure”, a Traffic Department official said. There is also a huge deficit of traffic signal men who control traffic on busiest spots of city’s roads. This deficiency can be gauged by the fact that one signal man deployed at a beat at Polo view has to spend about 12 hours on the beat to render his duty of controlling traffic. “There is no shift system for people like me and I have to be on the beat from 6 am to 8 pm non-stop”, said a signal man wishing not to be named. According to sources there are less than 300 signalmen in entire Jammu and Kashmir, whereas the required number is in thousands. The government said that about half a kilometre stretch of Residency road that traverses Srinagar city’s commercial hub, Lal Chowk, remains occupied with cars parked by shopkeepers and customers badly effecting smooth flow of traffic. “Unable to cope with ever increasing traffic mess the Traffic Department has permitted the parking on roads. A yellow line was drawn on the Residency Road to demarcate car parking for customers. But the people and Shopkeepers are violating rules and park their own cars on the road which creates problems for smooth traffic.”, said a senior official of the Transport Department. Meanwhile the authorities also blame the street vendors for the traffic mess. “Most of the vendors have occupied roads and footpaths. The footpaths meant for pedestrians have been occupied by vendors creating traffic chaos in the Srinagar. The vendors on both sides of the road, selling textile items, cosmetic collections, vegetables and fruits, have extended their carts on road thus creating unnecessary traffic mess and narrowing the space for movement of locals,” an official of the Srinagar Municipality told KNS.
2015 Kashmir Despatch