People of densely populated old City, the Shaher-e-Khaas which houses around half the population of Srinagar –have been left to fend for themselves –as the area is void of any traffic policing though roads are chocked and traffic growing manifold.
Concern of successive regimes towards Shaher-e-Khaas can be gauged from the fact that even the main junctions are void of traffic cops whose presence could streamline traffic movement. As a result the area witnesses frequent traffic snarls while people struggle, helplessly on congested roads.
Srinagar's Traffic police operates but more in the civil lines, the routes frequented by VIPs.
While Nowhatta –housing historic Jamia Masjid is considered heart of the summer capital –not a single Traffic cop is seen on duty on the main chowk. "It is often a mess on the main roads here and people have to voluntarily manage traffic," said Javaid Ahmed Zargar President Jamia Market Traders Federation.
From the busy bridges like ZainaKadal, FatehKadaland HabbaKadal to crossing like RajouriKadal the plight looks the same even on chocked intersections: Qaziyar Cut and MaharajGunj.
Busy Nawab Bazar road to historic Pather Masjid faces the same. "The situation is so pathetic that at times local youth voluntarily man traffic," said DalalMohalla residents. "Though one has got used to the gridlocks, the situation is challenging if some ailing being rushed to hospital gets stuck."
The old City inhabitants said their precious time goes waste in frequent traffic jams which swell in summers.
Traders of areas like MaharajGunj, a yesteryear business hub say lack of proper traffic arrangements affected the trade. "Once accessibility to the marketplace is inconvenient the footfall remains low," said a MaharajGunj trader. He said lack of requisite transport facilities coupled with absence of traffic cops has been a main cause of plummeting business activities in the area.
Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries President Sheikh Ashiq said the matter has come to the KCCI notice. "This is not only about business; in the absence of requisite traffic regulation, successive regimes have denied the people of old City of their basic right to decent commute," Ashiq told Greater Kashmir.
The Traffic Police with strength of around 250 cops has been accused of ignoring the AamAadmi as the men-in-blue are often seen deployed but only on VIP routes.
The neglect is so visible that even the entry points into old City lack dedicated traffic police deployment. Take the case of Munawarabad, a main connect between the City center and Shaher-e-Khaas, where beat constables are occasionally seen. Sources said the beat is manned only when VIP movement elsewhere is thin.
A senior Traffic police official said the department was trying its best to cater to the downtown. "We do have deployment at some junctions there but it is difficult to man every busy spot there given the priorities elsewhere and shortage of workforce," he said.