Kashmir faces major traffic gridlocks; hours lost in bumper-to-bumper traffic

The share of private cars and two-wheelers in the total number of vehicles registered in the last five decades is almost 7 lakh.
According to RTO Kashmir data, 7,22,199 vehicles were registered between 2004 and 2022.
According to RTO Kashmir data, 7,22,199 vehicles were registered between 2004 and 2022.File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Commuters in Kashmir are facing a tough time as the traffic mess across the Valley districts is increasing with each passing day. Interestingly, as the number of vehicles on Kashmir roads has increased multiple times, the condition of roads and traffic management remains the same.

As per the latest data accessed by Greater Kashmir, between 1971 and 2004, Kashmir logged 1,54,277 vehicle registrations. However, the spurt began 2004 onwards. According to RTO Kashmir data, 7,22,199 vehicles were registered between 2004 and 2022.

The share of private cars and two-wheelers in the total number of vehicles registered in the last five decades is almost 7 lakh. Out of these, car registration that has taken place is 3,11,608 while the registration number of two-wheelers is 3,85,672.

As per the data, there has been 468 percent increase in new vehicle registrations in the last 17 years, which is a five-fold jump since 2004.

The commuters say that as there has been negligible improvement in roads and traffic management, the valley has been seeing bumper-to-bumper jams in various districts like Ganderbal, Budgam, Srinagar, Anantnag and Barmulla.

In Srinagar, commuters from areas like Downtown, Saidakadal, Gulabbagh, Chanpora , Hazratbal, Dalgate , uptown areas say that the traffic jams are getting worse with each passing day.

“There has been no improvement in traffic management or conditions of roads across Srinagar. It has become a routine now that hours are wasted in traffic jams.” said Adil Ahmed from Dalgate.

Commuters said that the defunct Adaptive Traffic Control System (ATCS) across Srinagar has added to the issue. Commuters across Srinagar areas say that the non-functional traffic lights are creating a traffic mess in Srinagar on a daily basis. The commuters said that SMC had installed ATCS at all major junctions, but they don’t see it working at any junction including Dalgate, Lal Chowk, Hazratbal, and other areas.

“It has been a long time since the traffic lights were installed but they are of no use as they are defunct across major junctions,” said Mudasir Ahmed, a commuter.

Commuters said that in absence of Traffic lights, long traffic jams are triggered across the major junctions in Srinagar.

Greater Kashmir did a series of stories on traffic issues in Srinagar. The officials in multiple conversations with Greater Kashmir said that they will enhance the deployment and will also ensure that all traffic lights are functional.

In a recent conversation with this reporter on the traffic issue in Srinagar, SP Traffic (City) Tariq Wani said that they will increase the deployment in the coming days to streamline the traffic.

“The Traffic lights are working on most spots and the configuration of ATCS is almost complete. At spots where there is huge traffic flow, we manage the traffic manually for the convenience of commuters,” Wani told Greater Kashmir.

The district Ganderbal has been facing one of the worst traffic gridlocks across Kashmir. The office-goers students traveling in the district said that during peak hours they are facing huge inconvenience. The commuters and passengers traveling to the district from Srinagar said that there is no improvement in the road condition and they are facing issues on a daily basis.

“The continuous traffic jams have made travel worse in Ganderbal district. The roads are dilapidated and dusty, I opted for a staff bus to save time but unfortunately, we are stuck in traffic jams in the morning and evening as the roads are narrow and full of potholes. There is a huge tourist flow which makes the matters worse,” said Arsalan Manzoor, who travels to the district from Srinagar.

The officials from R&B department say that although there has been a major improvement in roads across Kashmir some areas need more change.

A senior official from the R & B department said that they are taking up road widening projects across Kashmir but land acquisition and compensation cost is prolonging the process.

“At various places, road widening is taking a long time due to high cost. Buildings are to be demolished and one structure is housing multiple families who want equal compensation. To streamline the road development majority of Srinagar roads are now under the jurisdiction of SMC which will expedite the process of road development. Under the smart cities project, many new projects have been taken up to improve the roads,” said the official.

The residents from south Kashmir say that they are also having a tough time commuting especially in towns. They said the roads are in bad shape making the travel worse.

“We are facing massive traffic gridlocks in Bijbehara town of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district. The roads stretch in front of Sub-district hospital Bijbehara is known for traffic jams. The officials are saying they will widen the road and make a better road but so far the proposal has not been finalised,” said Shahid Ahmed, a resident of Bijbehara.

Likewise the work on Ganderbal road from Pandach to Beeham is pending for years triggering massive traffic jams at peak hours. The residents say that unless better roads, traffic management and proper traffic lighting system is not put in place, the issue won't go away.

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