Srinagar is a heritage city. It is potentially considered to be the Venice of Asia with thousands of years of historical imprints. It, alongwith other parts of Kashmir, has historically been one of the first human habitations in the Indian subcontinent.
Srinagar is being promoted as a favourite tourist destination. It caters to multiple kinds of tourists and visitors. It attracts picnickers, heritage tourists, lovers of scenic beauty, and more recently visitors drawn by political considerations.
Srinagar is the central part of the valley of Kashmir, connecting its north and south besides being in itself what it is, that is the most populous part of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Notwithstanding the above, the city seems to be expanding literally in leaps and bounds without any consideration to anything worth considering. It's growing in all directions. The result is a perfect mess that the city has come to signify. It seems to be collapsing under the weight of massive traffic movement especially during peak hours. All efforts at regulating its traffic have miserably failed. The shift from the manual regulation to the digital did not do much. Traffic signals equally seem to have given up in the face of the huge traffic rush.
Lal Chowk and its surrounding area is the busiest and most commercial part of the whole valley. Naturally it deserves the most attention for regulation of traffic. The road from Dalgate to Tengpora byepass is not simply the main road passing through the city. It is in fact the lifeline and the only intersection road that connects the north, central and south Kashmir with each other. There are two roads one each on north and south running parallel to Residency Road and MA Road which can lessen the pressure on these roads. One is the Lal Mandi-zero Bridge Road and the other is Barbar Shah-Munawwarabad Road. They are critically important for the city and need to be developed on par with MA Road and Residency Road.
The Road from Lal Mandi heading towards Zero Bridge could be connected to TRC point via a bridge which could take off just before the curve near Hatrick and could land at Emporium Garden. From Emporium Garden onwards, a passage could be constructed through a portion of the TRC Ground adjacent to the TRC Road connecting MA Road to Residency Road.
Similarly, the road running from TRC Point to Polo Ground could also be extended on the right side of the road without any dislocation as the road belongs to the government.
The road from Regal Chowk to Ghanta Ghar could also easily be widened on the right side as a portion of the Pratap Park spread over the same area could be merged with the road.
Two more cross-overs could be constructed over the river Jhelum, one near GPO which is already under construction and the other through Lower Court Complex which has already been shifted to Bemina now. The two bridges will further lessen the pressure on Amira Kadal.
The area around Lal Ded hospital, the leading maternity hospital in the whole valley, direly needs to be decongested. A portion of Iqbal Park could be adjusted with LD Hospital leading the road passing through Maharaja Bazar further towards Tagore Hall and then from Tagore Hall towards Lal Mandi. It will also mute the area as demanded by the location of the hospital in the area.
A small bridge connecting Rajbagh, Aram pora to Sonawar could also substantially reduce the distance between the two locations and will also lessen the load on TRC point, as, at present, all traffic towards Sonawar, Pampore and beyond has to take a U turn via TRC Crossing-Dalgate to reach Sonwar, Pampore. A bridge over the river near Aram Pora-Rajbagh and Sonawar , initially for light traffic, could easily lessen the traffic on TRC Crossing and Dalgate.
MA Road could also easily be widened as most of the land on either side of the Road, at least from Dalgate to SRTC Bus Stand near Ghanta Ghar, belongs to the state government and could be merged with road.
A road could be carved out of the Polo Ground land behind the Polo Ground lane on eastern side to accommodate the traffic coming from the north via Munawwarabad Road. At present, this whole traffic has to take a long U Turn via MA Road, TRC Crossing, Residency Road and finally Lal Chowk. This traffic could straightaway head towards Lal Chowk through Polo Ground and then through Residency Road to Reach Lal Chowk. Such a Road could be connected to the Bridge under Construction near GPO.
There are many such way-outs which need to be found out to give the much needed breather to all. Our policy makers need to sit together and find out what is financially and administratively feasible with least burden on public exchequer.
(The author is organiser Srinagar Heritage Walks)