Failure of authorities to execute any road widening plan and unabated encroachments over the years has resulted in clogging of traffic on daily basis in North Kashmir's Bandipora town.
The residents said that the situation would have eased had the government completed the much awaited bypass project and parking lots.
"The parallel roads from the market have been blocked due to massive encroachments by influential people whereas 80 per cent of the fire gaps have also disappeared due to such encroachments," Mohsin Mohammad a resident said.
Though over the years attempts were made to decongest the market area by shifting the Bus stand to Nusoo and Sumo stand for Sopore to Kaloosa besides allowing circular traffic movement from Nowpora to Nusoo via Ranger Khan and Auto Rikshaw movement through Khadim Market. Also, the vendors were given space in the old Bus stand, however, the basic problem hasn't been addressed, the residents alleged.
The locals said that no parking space for public and shopkeepers and haphazard plying of vehicles adds to the chaos in the main market with Nibrepora, Nowpora, Kaloosa and main chowk being worst hit.
"The traffic mess in the Market area always gives me a headache, whenever I travel through the area. The narrow width of roads, the mismanagement of traffic movement and lack of parking space adds to this mess," Dar Mudasir a frequent commuter from Sumbal told the Greater Kashmir. "I see a large number of vehicles parked on the roads hampering the smooth flow of traffic which creates problems for even pedestrians."
Another resident, Raja Mansoor said, "all the chaos is because of violation of traffic rules, wrong parking by public transport especially Autowalla's and lack of parking space".
Abuzar Nazki, another local said, "It is a nightmare during peak hours, the space for footpath has been choked by the shopkeepers, which also hampers traffic movement besides narrow roads and lack of Bypass and parking space also becomes a hurdle for traffic movement."
Chairman Municipal Council Bandipora, Basharat Hussain Najjar while talking to Greater Kashmir confirmed that the 'unresolved traffic mess and encroachment in town area was an issue'. He said that the Municipal council was contemplating certain measures to correct the mess.
"We have prepared a DPR for parking space behind SBI bank, moreover the DPR of Rs 23 cr for Bypass from Nusoo to Pautshay which will greatly reduce the traffic congestion has been submitted to the authorities for approval," Najjar said, hoping for its early approval. He said that they are also identifying parking space near Nowpora.
Najjar said that they are mulling to relocate the vegetable market to the New Bus Stand in Nusoo besides making tough guidelines for Auto Rikshaw's and other public transporters to follow the approved route.
On encroachment, Hussain said, "we have sought the revenue departments help to locate the actual position of encroachers, which is still awaited." Najjar said that he was "duty-bound to restore the original position of the market."
Surprisingly, last year the authorities ordered the removal of encroachments with much fanfare by serving eviction notices to encroachers, but still no headway was made.
Advisor to Lt. Governor, Farooq Ahmad Khan who was accompanied by Principal Secretary, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, Visiting Officer for Bandipora, told Greater Kashmir during My Town My Pride event in Bandipora that, "Things don't happen by pushing a button, everything needs money then detailed DPR's are made which later get approved so that every work is executed with a proper plot and state of mind".
Khan said, "the responsibility of town is now with the Municipal council, and as and when the serious and hardworking president sends proposals and with the Districts biggest ambassador (Asgar Samoon) I will ensure that all requirements of Bandipora are taken care of in earnest."