A new traffic roadmap for Srinagar
WITH THE NUMBER OF VEHICLES FAR OUTSTRIPPING THE EXPANSION OF ROADS IN THE CITY, THE GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO FIND A CREATIVE SOLUTION TO THE WORSENING TRANSPORT MESS, WRITES AJAZ AHMAD BHAT
Traffic in Kashmir is reaching stupendous proportions. On any day, on any road , one can always witness transport expanding its hydra deaded tentacles. The mess is only becoming unmanageable and there seems no plan from government to tackle the mess. Roads have not expanded commensurate with the volume of traffic The road deficit, as a result, is gaping. If no drastic measures are taken, the situation can explode.
The government by its policy of stressing horizontal expansion has only improved the traffic bearing capacity of our roads. Roads are being expanded as per the national standards , two to four lanes are in existence, but as soon as the road passes through a major town the traffic from bye lanes congests the main highway. The local transport has to mix with the highway transport to cross the highway and the result is slowing of traffic movement. National standards which require segregation of traffic tubes can only be achieved by overhead bridges and flyovers and in our case both are missing. Roads have been expanded horizontally only and no efforts are made for vertical expansion. Vertical expansion of roads in the form of fly overs, metros, subways etc has proved helpful across the globe for traffic mobility.
9 and 5 chaos
Traffic load in Kashmir is mostly concentrated between 9 and 5. Reaon being that due to turmoil people used to avoid early and late hour movements. Although the situation has improved, the psyche and habits have not changed. One can witness sweepers cleaning gutters at 9, municipality trash being picked at 9, milkman selling milk at 9, newspaper vendor on streets at 9, offices , schools , courts opening at 9 and even shopkeepers rushing for business at 9; the trend only reverses at 5 . The result thus is obvious: it’s like everyone rushing at the dooms day call, , a movement that in scientific language can be called Brownian. Road rage, stress and pollution can be witnessed at its peak on 9 and 5 hours.
Among the major towns of Kashmir Srinagar has to face lot of traffic oriented problems not just because of being the capital of the state but because of host of other peculiarities. The city of Srinagar is situated on both banks of river Jhelum and as such the river has to be navigated, negotiated, crossed by all the inhabitants as well as the visitors frequently. Besides the city has to be circumnavigated along the famous Dal lake banks by those living on its banks as well as by those intending to visit the Mughal gardens and Hazratbal shrine. Both these factors restrict the choice for expansion of roads as the roads have to be led towards the bridges which are few in number , narrow in expanse and old fashioned. The bridges are a vestige of the Budshah era and for the last 600 years no further bridges are constructed which speaks of the irony of the state we live in. Unless the city gets criss crossed with about half a dozen more bridges the traffic mess will continue to haunt.
The city could well have become Venice of East , the channels connecting the Dal lake with the Jhelum and the catchment areas like the Gili sar Pokhribal sar and the Hokersar could have made the land transport redundant. The city which could boast of being fed by remote waters of the Doodh Ganga and the Sindh is choking its arteries, the Mar was filled, the Doodh Ganga channel is a history and the Sindh Nalla can not be believed to have existed. Now it is the turn of Chonti Kul, and flood channel to call it a day. Most of the springs have dried and the swamp lands have been filled for raising colonies only to make the bye lanes traversing these colonies a sort of lagoons. We have only altered the topography and landscape to our own detriment, with water bodies having suffered the most. This is the time when we should revisit our approach towards city development , the water bodies still left can be used for navigation provided we have proper plans and it can be eco friendly and cheap although not much faster means of transport. The nallah Amir Khan was made to connect Dal with Anchar lake through Gilli Sar. and the idea if acted upon could have helped boost tourism. The tourists could take boating as an expedition to visit the entire city especially downtown through this route and the Anchar lake much famed for its floating gardens and a corridor towards north could have developed apace with Dal. The dal lake could also be decongested of the houseboats as well making its preservation an easier task. The chonti kul which during heyday would carry people from Shaheedgunj to Dal has become a big drain for city sewer and only becomes navigable at flood times when it carries excess water from Dal towards Jhelum. This channel could uplink the Jhelum to city interiors and could be used to ferry cargo if the Jhelum is used for same. Thus city has great potential for water transport provided there is a visionary zeal and zest.
The uptown is burgeoning with business activities and shopping complexes are mushrooming on either side of every road. The, hospitals, schools government departments and every important establishment want a space in and around the Dalgate Batmaloo axis. The space is becoming shorter and government is trying to fill the deficit by culling the chinar trees around the Residency Polo Ground and squeezing the city parks like Pratap Park etc by including its boundaries for road expansion. The shopping complexes are not standardized as no guidelines for parking area are followed. The greed of businessmen who construct such complexes and the authorities who sleep over the issue only makes the roads congested with the vehicles of intending customers. There are only few parking spaces and people have no option but to leave their vehicles outside on roads with every risk of traffic cop towing the vehicle . Recently the government has taken away the parking space at clock tower . The space was used by all the shopkeepers in the vicinity for parking of their vehicles. The government seems insensitive towards the parking spaces as if the vehicles are to be carried on our backs after you switch the engine off.
The parking spaces in place seem to be politically motivated. Parking space constructed near museum side adjacent to foot bridge is being used by Mallinson and Biscoe school buses for parking and similarly horticulture department orchard land near Convent has been converted into parking space which is only used for parking of vehicles of parents of wards studying in the said school. Complete disregard is shown to the landscape while constructing parking places. Millions of rupees were lost in landscaping the Jhelum banks and the hard bought beauty is allowed to be pock marked by vehicles being parked on its banks. The parking of vehicles on Dalgate Batmaloo axis is galore except near high court and secretariat for obvious reasons. Vehicles are parked on either side of the road which gets narrowed and makes traffic to slow down. The road which otherwise is 40 feet is narrowed down to 20 or 15 feet , first by outside display by shopkeepers, then by the static or mobile vendors , then by the parked vehicles with pedestrians walking in a zig zag motion between whatever space is left for them. The road management at this axis has to be done keeping this aspect in mind and the traffic has to hope to get not more than this space in the present context.
In order to remedy this axis of traffic mess the government has to think big. Think big in the form of thinning the government offices along this axis, the government establishments like the old secretariat. The Food and Supplies department, the Deputy Commissioner and Divisional Commissioner office, the Zonal Police Headquarters, the CID office etc have to be relocated and the space thus acquired need to be earmarked for parking and business establishments. The relocation of government establishment towards the Bemina and Sharifabad can help establish new city on the pattern of New and old Delhi, Hyderabad and Secunderabad, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad. New cities have come up only when the offices and important public establishments have been shifted and we have the same opportunity in hand , as some of the offices like SDA office, BOSE, etc has already being relocated to Bemina. The land around the area is still available and if government does not rise to the occasions we will lose the same to shanty towns, and unorganized house building.
The Jhelum bank has been developed and beautified and the so called bund constructed to hold the river during floods holds opportunity for laying narrow gauge rail track on which a city railways connecting Panthachowk to Sangam Eidgah can be laid. This can address the traffic mess and change the habits of people for roadside parking as commuter can take short distances on the said track in a speedy and cheap manner. This track can change the character of the city and will make commuting easier and fast. Delhi metros can be a guideline for constructing this track without having to deteriorate the landscape. A cheaper possibility can be the use of electricity driven trams in shorter circuits like Budshah bridge to Zerobridge, Budshah bridge to Habba Kadal, Zero Bridge to Shivpora and if the project succeeds the same can be extended to other routes. The intra Kashmir railways from Islamabad to Baramulla has been a great success.
All said and done ,the traffic management is a multifaceted problem and needs multipronged strategy with contribution from the multiple stake holders and it needs consistent and concerted efforts to tide over the problem . The suggestions’ stated are just an effort to ruffle some feathers, and prick the conscience of those involved.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 15 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM OP-ED
Demand release of wages
Bandipora, June 14: Daily-wagers of the Public Health Engineering (PHE) department staged protests here on Tuesday to press for release of their pending wages. Hundreds of PHE daily wagers boycotted More
- Srinagar City
2 decades on, govt fails route revamp; public transport passengers bear worst of traffic mismanagement
Srinagar, June 14: The public transport system in the City has gone so miserable that it often takes less time to travel from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district to Srinagar than what it takes from Lal Chowk More
Jammu, June 14: Emotional bonds of people living on either side of Indo-Pak border are still intact and it came true when a Pakistani emerged as saviour of six Indian sailors, including one from Jammu More
Srinagar: The inhabitants of Government Housing Colony Ompora Budgam Tuesday complained shortage of water supply in their area. A delegation of Welfare Committee of the area said that despite construction More
Minister inspects FCI, CAPD godowns
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, June 14: If the government figures are anything to go by, the Valley is flush with foodgrain stocks. The buffer stocks of foodgrains comprising 2,13,991 qtls rice, 14930 qtls wheat and More
- For Contributors