Clearing the Roads

Why can’t we have equipment that clears snow without damaging road surface
Clearing the Roads
A curricle colloquially known as Taang'e maneuvers along a snow-clad road in a village in north Kashmir, on 9 Jan 2022. [Representational Image] Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

The first thing that is affected by a snowfall in Kashmir is the movement of vehicles on roads.

As it snows, the movement of vehicles becomes very risky, and the likelihood of accidents increases.

As everyone is now carrying a camera with them, we have a stream of videos uploaded on social media sites that capture a skidding bike, a car hitting another, a vehicle running into a passerby, and in some cases a serious accident in which life and limb are lost.

As more layers pile upon the surface, movement of vehicles becomes even more difficult. That is why it is very crucial to have a mechanism in place that ensures speedy clearance of roads.

But that is not the case here in the valley. Some major rods do receive attention and the snow clearance vehicles are seen plying on them, but if it is a remote area you don’t have the facility. That is one aspect of our deficit in our preparedness to clear the roads once snow piles up.

But there is more to it than just the inadequacy of the equipment. Mostly we have seen that the machines and the vehicles used for snow clearance damage road surface. At a time when snow clearance equipment is so hi-tech and fine, we still have machines that do more harm than otherwise.

We clear the snow but leave permanent scares on the road surface. Just some weeks later we find the same spots turning into potholes, and finally we have sizeable patches without metallic surface.

The amount of discomfort that it gives later, and the amount of resource that is then spent on its repair, is much more than the ease it brings. For a layman and for a common sensical argument, it would have been better to leave the roads remain under snow for a day, than to damage the surface.

One simple question; why can’t we have equipment that clears snow without damaging the road surface.

And also when we clear the roads, we bank the snow on the sides, and this way almost half the road width remains closed for many days after the snowfall.

Greater Kashmir