The most important part of a “Smart City” is its roads and drains. Roads allow one to move freely all over the city smoothly without any jamming and without any bumps. Drains take away the rain water leaving most of the roads dry for the traffic to ply easily. In the so called “Smart City” of Srinagar, both are missing! No doubt we have a network of roads and lanes throughout the city yet these are not scientifically placed or connected to allow two way smooth traffic. There are many bottlenecks and jamming points.
There are hardly any one-way roads which could help in smooth flow of traffic. Over and above everything, there is no traffic sense among the bulk of the population as driving licenses are issued without any strict and fool-proof tests undergone by drivers. In addition, the lack of traffic engineering leaves many gaping holes in allowing smooth flow of traffic. This includes umpteen cuts in road dividers where people can make U-turns and often malfunctioning traffic lights.
The worst part is the road surface in almost all city roads except few prestigious ones through the civil lines areas. In many places we have a series of pot holes instead of roads! Strangely, the macadam mechanically laid hardly lasts a season! It comes off with just few days of rain. macdamisation has certain technical specifications regarding the quality and quantity of bitumen, consistency and the temperature of the mix and the thickness of the layer. No one adheres to these specifications which is the reason for its getting damaged with just few days of rain.
It hardly lasts a season. Incidentally, the macdamisation of two roads, Maulana Azad Road and the Boulevard Road done in mid-eighties of the last century by a Delhi firm remained undamaged almost for two decades! Another problem is late start of the work almost in autumn or even just before winter.
The reason for this being late release of funds and subsequent delay in allotting the work. Another drawback is the dividing of work of some roads to a group of contractors by splitting the contract into parts rather than giving one complete project to a single reputed and resourceful company.
This has sometimes political considerations! Apart from pot holes, most of the city roads have manholes not level with the road surface. Some places these are like dangerous pits and in other places like small mounds, very dangerous for driving especially during night.
As regards, drains, the less said, the better. Just a few hours of rain floods most of the important civil lines areas not to mention the Sher-i-Khas and other places like some new colonies. Some years back the Asian Development Bank had sanctioned a comprehensive scheme for Srinagar drainage. It is not known what happened to that project? At the moment all the emphasis is on completing a fly over which was least needed except for speeding up free movement of VIPs to the Airport and the Civil Secretariat. That money could have been used for widening and improving existing roads! However, we have failed to get out of the VIP culture in Kashmir! It is hoped some consideration would be given to the convenience of general public also!