On 47th page of the e-presentation titled Specific Initiatives: Srinagar City –the party promises “Traffic de-congestion through better traffic management.”
In a city where gridlocks have become the awful routine, traffic regulation is finally a challenge worth election manifesto, which opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) promises to fulfill if voted to power.
In its 58-page document titled An Aspirational Agenda –the party has dedicated a manifesto page to state’s summer capital –struggling for development on multiple fronts and conservation of heritage spots alike. But traffic issue triggers curiosity. On 47th page of the e-presentation titled Specific Initiatives: Srinagar City –the party promises “Traffic decongestion through better traffic management.”
Though this City-centric manifesto page starts with the promise to make Srinagar into a Smart City and construction of multi-layer parking lots, traffic management has brought some newness. Apart from traffic regulation, the party assures creation of “Pedestrian Only Zones.” This is another eye-catcher for the City where footpaths over the years have been drastically reduced as if people have stopped walking or travel by vehicles alone.
For the past few years, this out-of-power party often expressed concern over traffic jams and sought remedial measures. Senior PDP leaders including parliamentarian from Srinagar constituency seat Tariq Hamid Karra have often termed the gridlocks as “traffic terror” even as the party leadership critically reacted to some developments like ongoing construction of Jehangir Chowk Ram Bagh flyover.
For years City is struggling for traffic regulation while apart from long-term measures like road widening, successive regimes have even failed the need to timely augment the presumably staff-starved traffic police. On the other hand for decades densely populated Shaher-e-Khaas roads are void of any traffic policing as the 250 odd cops on duty concentrate in futility on the Civil Line routes, mostly the ones frequented by VIPs.
While ruling National Conference often admitted the need to increase the traffic police strength to estimated 1000 cops, its 6-year regime proved too short a time for the party to deliver on this front.
The prevalent traffic mess, however, hasn’t been about NC-Congress coalition alone. It persisted even in the previous PDP-Congress regime. In 2008, the then government had assured that the traffic police augmentation would be completed in three phases. In reality even first phase has been awaiting implementation though the number of vehicles has grown to around five lakh in Kashmir province.
Whether PDP comes to power or not to fulfill its promises in gridlocked-City, January when the new government is scheduled to be in place, is feared to bring the biggest challenge for traffic regulation. Reasons: The City center areas, particularly the Central Business District, will have to bear historic traffic diversions, a move feared to trigger the worst ever chaos. Take it as manifesto or not but in 2015 traffic decongestion through better traffic management will be the only way out!