Whenever they ask us where we live, a response from the residents of Brane, Nishat, Shalimar and Harwan (BNSH) makes them “Sigh in Ah”. What a place - health resort, fresh air, the Dal, the mountains, the water is what comes to their mind. Well, these attributes may be right to a large extent, but all these are set aside by few negatives that BNSH areas have.
The road, the traffic jams, frequent diversions, and too many closures.
‘Boulevard road’ as it is named from Dalgate onwards, bifurcates at Nishat to the left as Foreshore Road towards Hazratbal, and to the right as Shalimar-Harwan extension.
Boulevard was done at time of Maharaja of J&K as a motorable road for that era when few vehicles and more tongas were plying. The road was and is 16 feet in width good enough for 2 vehicles to pass to and fro and has a sizeable foot-path area rightly so for many do walk on it for recreational purposes. J&K has seen a Maharaja, Prime Minister/s, Chief Minister/s, Governors/Lieutenant Governor/s …… but Boulevard has stayed as such.
This Maharaja era road cannot bear the present Google era traffic and associated traffic snarls every day.
Next in this area are the ‘Raj-Bhavan’, the official residence of Governor/ Lieutenant Governor, the place where every dignitary comes to meet or stay and the only worth-while convention centre –‘SKICC’ which hosts the attendees and dignitaries almost every day.
Many a time with the nature of the guest/s at the Raj-Bhavan or at SKICC the traffic ought to get congested, diverted, or even stopped rarely, an inconvenience that cannot be felt by people from rest of the valley.
Then the famed Cheshma-Shahi, Parimahal, Nishat, Shalimar and Harwan gardens have been a source of attraction and are there to stay. Thousands of locals and tourists, throng in to have a first-hand glimpse of these famed gardens. Almost all of them come via Boulevard and the beeline is evident every day.
Particularly Sundays are a harrowing experience for the localities for the rush is such that they cannot dream of leaving their home for a go to city as the snarls are unending. The traffic officials try their best to streamline the traffic but the quantum many a time gets unmanageable.
A month of tulips at now famed Tulip Garden earlier in the year is a nightmare for the BNSH residents. Not only the local Kashmiris but people from all over the country throng in to witness the tulips grow bright and beautiful but the residents of BNSH pray that the tulips vanish even before they are born. The hardship they face due to traffic mess created in these 3/ 4 weeks is indefinable.
In the summer months hundreds of students from various schools of valley come for picnic to the gardens. Buses full of innocent kids get stranded for a while and result in a mess for the already stretched out choked road.
Moreover, this area may have a cross country run, a cycle race/s, a boat show/s, an air show, a solidarity walk by administrators and many more events every month and each of these may result in the traffic being diverted or stopped. This adds to the worries of an already crushed population of BNSH.
And hence it has become a routine for the BNSH residents that a half an hour pleasant drive home takes more than an hour and becomes unpleasant; Sundays are beyond manageable, a VVIPs visit sometimes means an alternate longer route and more snarls, a picnic to the famed gardens adds to the worries, the innumerable events, and guests at the SKICC hampers the movement sometimes.
These are the problems faced by the unfortunate inhabitants of BNSK areas.
So, is there a solution.
Boulevard is what needs to be set right and on a war footing. Ironically it is of same width even after 9 decades of it being done. For last half a century BNSH residents have heard about it being extended either side as a four-lane road, but still this dream hasn’t seen the light of the day. At least some part of boulevard the widening can easily be done as it involves less cumbersome process of land accusation, has not much of environmental issues at stake, and is easily doable.
Who says it is heaven this way, we will call it hell and advise no one to come here to live………unless the issues mentioned are dealt with. Just a request from these unfortunates--- widen the road - Maharaja will be happy and BNSH will be worth living then.
Dr Muzafar Maqsood Wani, Consultant Nephrologist, SKIMS, Soura
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.