SRINAGAR: Even as the traffic jams continue to worsen with each passing day, the people of old City,which houses around half the population of Srinagar, have been left to fend for themselves, as the congested area continues to be void of any traffic policing.
The government is regulating traffic, but only in the civil lines, particularly the routes frequented by VIPs. This way, leave apart other main roads in old City, the Traffic Police doesnt even man the major crossings in the area, spanning mostly over north and east of the City.
Discrimination with old City is visible right from Munawarabad, where the civil-lines borders the old City. As one drives down from MA Road, no traffic cop is visible beyond the Munawarabad crossing.
But this congested crossing is just the beginning. The problem only festers towards the interiors. Nowhatta, which houses the historic Jamia Masjid, craves for traffic regulation even at the main square.
Having no other options, most often the locals including shopkeepers have to man the traffic themselves otherwise jams will last for hours, complained President Jamia Market Traders Federation, Javaid Ahmed Zargar.
Similar is the scene elsewhere including busy Hawal crossing which has become infamous for chronic traffic jams. The presence of pavement vendors only adds to the chaos in the absence of traffic police.
On the other hand, similar is the plight on the routes con¬necting busy bridges like Zaina Kadal, Fateh Kadal and Habba Kadal.
Towards Gojwara crossing and the Nallah Mar Road, things are equally messy. Also, the entry to the famous Zaina Kadal and adjoining Maharaj Gunj marketplaces is cumbersome, a main reason why shoppers shy away from visiting these traditional bazaars.
President Shaher-e-Khaas Traders Federation Nazir Ahmed Shah complained that traffic congestion was a main cause of market slump. On one side, theres no parking facility in the area whereas on the other, the absence of much-needed traffic cops adds to congestion Frankly speaking amid so much of traffic mess, why will aspiring shoppers opt for coming to this historic marketplace? Shah asked the government.
Connectivity on the busy Nawab Bazar road to historic Pather Masjid is no better either, though this route happens to be a vital connectivity between the old City and the SMHS Hospital.
The Shaher-e-Khaas inhabitants said the biggest problem they face was in ferrying of patients to hospital. In times of emergency, patients are literally seen dying on the roads as the vehicles ferrying them get helplessly stuck in jams… This is gross human rights violation, said Muhammad Suhail, a lawyer.
The Traffic Police Srinagar with aggregate strength of 300 odd cops has been concentrating but on the civil lines. Officials said though there are over 100 beats in the old City, which badly need traffic policing, successive regimes have been sleeping over the issue.
A senior Traffic Police official said there was a decade old proposal to regulate traffic in Shaher-e-Khaas. We are aware of the problem but out priority is civil lines because were running short of workforce. But we still occasionally try to regulate traffic in downtown, the official said,
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