Srinagar: In a major embarrassment for the administration, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti Friday evening got stuck in traffic jam when she was on a surprise visit of Maharaja Bazar in the city centre to have a firsthand account of the problems faced by the people.
The Chief Minister is understood to have taken a serious note of the failure on the part of civil and police administration in providing hassle-free road connectivity to the people in the summer capital, while poorest sanitation equally remained her concern.
I couldnt believe my eyes when I saw CM and her entire cavalcade including her jammer vehicle and ambulance stranded in traffic jam in the busy Maharaja Bazar locality, said Waseem Asif Maqbool, an eyewitness.
Mehbooba, who was travelling from Hari Singh High Street side towards Iqbal Park had to face the congestion, which has otherwise been a routine for the people.
Witnesses said it took her some 10 minutes to cover the one-minute distance even as some cops on duty in the area tried their best in futility to clear the obstructions ahead. But nothing could remain concealed from the Chief Ministers eyes, who watched everything, curiously.
Mehbooba saw that despite her instructions for blanket ban on street vending on busy routes, the Maharaja Bazar-Hazuri Bagh route was flooded with hawkers, mostly those selling fruits and vegetables.
Witnesses said Mehbooba specifically pointed her fingers towards the Raida Walas and the roadside display of goods, which was adding to congestion and making the driving difficult.
There was equally no check on the slow pace of public transport vehicles crawling down the busy route.
Presence of pavement vendors coupled with the snails pace of mini buses plying on the route, remained the typical reason of the jam, said a shopkeeper from the locality.
It is for the first time in the past over a decade that a Chief Minister drove down the congested Maharaja Bazar to take stock of arrangements in place. This route, being infamous for traffic jams, is otherwise often avoided by majority of people than to talk of any VIPs.
As her cavalcade crawled down the marketplace, Mehbooba was finally seen taking out her mobile phone and making a phone call.
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Traffic, Srinagar, Maqsood-ul-Zaman, said that the Chief Minister wanted to conduct a surprise visit and as such took an unusual turn. We had no prior information about the CMs visit, he said. Perhaps she wanted to have firsthand information of the traffic issues.
Sources said within minutes, by the time the Chief Ministers motorcade left the spot, a huge contingency of police and Srinagar Municipal Corporation sleuths arrived only to undertake a drive against pavement vendors.
A squad from SMC equally asked the traders to avoid the roadside display of goods, something which is an offence under the municipal norms. In the meantime another contingency arrived to clean the streets flooded with garbage.
The area shopkeepers said they were delighted to see that government has got to know about the problems faced by them. This has been our miserable plight for years, but now that the Chief Minister herself has seen the problem, we hope to see a lasting respite, said a delegation of traders from the area.
The adjoining Amira Kadal bridge, which connects the Maharaja Bazar with Lal Chowk, has become out of bounds of private vehicles as the route serves as illegal bus stop for the mini buses.
People often avoid driving down this route while traders say traffic congestion has become a cause of decline in business activities in the area.
Meanwhile a senior official while downplaying the matter said there was no jam during Chief Ministers surprise visit. It was just a slow down, he said
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