Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Traffic (Srinagar) Javaid Koul on Tuesday said that the department will continue to act against traffic violators to ensure smooth flow of traffic in Srinagar.
In an interview with Greater Kashmir, Koul said the traffic department is working towards implementation of the e-challans so that handwritten challans are soon done away with. “The e-challans will save a lot of time and energy and help curb the traffic violations,” Koul said.
Koul said the last two years witnessed a comparatively lesser volume of traffic on city roads, first due to situation arising out after August 5, 2019 and then due to Covid-19 last year. However, the SSP Traffic city said the next few months— amid the opening of Darbar move offices at Srinagar and the expected huge tourist rush— are going to be challenging in terms of regulating the traffic.
“The lean period of the last one and half years when traffic flow was less, provided us ample time to go back to the drawing board and fix the loopholes, especially with regard to major traffic junctions,” Koul said. He said the traffic diversions at Sanat Nagar, Bemina and Shalteng crossings have helped to ease out the traffic to a great extent.
Koul said that now that “the congestion had been addressed to a great extent” it is time for the traffic police to focus on its primary task of curbing traffic violations.
“The flow of traffic on the entire bypass stretch has improved as compared to last year. We are making all efforts that people reach offices on time and medical emergencies don’t suffer,” Koul said.
He said the modern day traffic management is making it least dependent on traffic police manpower to regulate the traffic. He said following traffic rules by commuters coupled with use of technology can help regulation of traffic. However, Koul said the traffic department in the city has only 600 policemen available which is quite less as compared to the growth in volume of traffic and the existing road infrastructure.
“The available manpower is quite less as compared to the existing infrastructure. We hope to train many of our officers and constables regarding e-challans so that handling violations becomes easier,” Koul said.
When asked as to why the mechanised parking at erstwhile KMD yard at Lal Chowk was closed for the last several months which results in overcapacity of the other available parking sites, Koul said people desist from using the available parking slots.
“I admit that we need more parking spaces and two of them are coming up in the city centre, one at Sheikh Bagh and another one in the Abi Guzar lane. People are not habitual of properly parking their vehicles in the designated parking lots. They want to just step out of the car and enter the showroom or mall for shopping which is not right,” Koul said.
Koul said “the haphazard and unplanned growth” of Srinagar city over the last several decades is now causing hurdles for smooth movement of traffic. “The road lengths and breadths are the same but new car sales, registrations and bank finances are increasing with each passing day,” Koul said.
The SSP Traffic said that it is need of the hour that all line agencies such as Roads and Buildings department, the civic bodies and the Traffic Department work in tandem to address the issue of traffic management.
“The issue of street vendors has to be addressed so that roads are clear for movement of traffic. We need proper urban planning to ensure that we don’t stare at a traffic disaster five years down the line,” Koul said.
He said issuance of driving licenses must be made “more rigorous” and instead of just manual driving tests, use of machines to test the driving skills and knowledge of a license aspirant must also be done. “Parents must understand that getting a driving licence for their children through influence or by spending some money is not right thing to do. We don’t just need good drivers on our roads but people behind the wheels should be sensitive enough to understand traffic rules,” Koul said.
Koul said traffic management in Srinagar is an “ever-evolving and dynamic” process which needs to be handled innovatively. “At many of the busy traffic hotspots such as Sonwar we ensured that maxicabs such as Sumos have a specific route so that they don’t interfere with the city traffic. Similarly, the sumos coming from Chadoora have been streamlined in a way that the stretch from Chanapora to Natipora is decongested and thankfully we have seen the results,” Koul said.
When asked as to why the odd-even rule on the lines of Delhi, even after being considered by the traffic department was not implemented in Srinagar, Kaul said: “You cannot compare this place with other cities outside. We have our own set of problems which need indigenous solutions,” Koul said.
He said bringing an improvement in public transport was the need of the hour. “Imagine we make a Tata Sumo coming from south Kashmir to halt at Pantha Chowk and drop the passengers there. It is quite unfair as we know that we don’t have a very efficient public transport system which can help people in the last mile connectivity,” Koul said.
The SSP Traffic said the department was regularly holding awareness programmes to enlighten people about traffic rules. “We can’t always use the stick as it is our own set of people we are regulating. But nonetheless there is no laxity for habitual offenders and we will continue to act against them,” said Koul.