No entry for cabs | Commuters travelling from Anantnag, Pulwama to LalChowk suffer

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Pulwama, Sep 8: If you do not have your own conveyance, travelling from south Kashmir’s Pulwama district to LalChowk in Srinagar will be a cumbersome journey.

Since February this year, LalChowk has become a difficult-to-reach place for thousands of residents including students, patients and government employees from area.

Following the renovation work of historic LalChowk, which was taken as part of the Smart City project, LalChowk was declared off-limits to the cabs operating from south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Anantnag and Tral areas.

"The traffic authorities do not allow the cabs from these areas to enter the city", said Mohamamd. Hussain, president Sumo Stand, Pulwama.

According to Hussain, the authorities also seized and challaned dozens of vehicles , which they had parked in a parking slot near Press Colony. " Later, we got them released through the court," said Hussain. Although after some time the cabs coming from other parts of south Kashmir were permitted to enter LalChowk, the restriction remained in place for the cabs operating from Pulwama, causing tremendous inconveniences to the commuters. "We ply between Pulwama and PanthaChowk only. These retractions are for us only," said Hussain.

ZeeshanAhmad , a commuter told Greater Kashmir that they had to change at least three vehicles to reach LalChowk. "Such restrictions have increased our travel at least by 40 to 45 minutes", he said. Ahmad said that they had to fork out extra fare as well. "Sometimes we have to hire an auto rickshaw to reach well on time at our destination", said Ahmad, adding that it is sheer discrimination with Pulwama.

Recounting her ordeal, a 19-year-old female student from Pulwama'sMuran area said that last time she stuck in traffic jam for more than 40 minutes near Sonawar and the moment she reached PanthaChowk, the last Pulwama bound cab had left the stand. "I did not understand what to do. Eventually I phoned back home and they sent a relative who picked me up," she said.

Many students from the area shared more or less the similar experience. A cab driver, who had been travelling from Pulwama to LalChowk for the last 8 years said that the patients were at the receiving end . "They plead with us to drop them at LalChowk or Dalgate", he said.

Regional Transport Officer, Kashmir Syed ShahnawazBukhari told Greater Kashmir they had not barred the cabs from entering the city. He, however, added that the restrictions might be put in place by the traffic police as part of the decongestion process.

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