Srinagar: At a time when the traffic jams have worsened in the summer capital here, the government has allowed construction of more slums at the Parim Pora bus stand thereby hindering the prospects of decongesting the City.
In the wake of mega traffic diversion for traffic to south City, the Batamaloo bus stand, which lies in the Central Business District, was scheduled to be relocated to Parim Pora, where the Srinagar Development Authority(SDA) has constructed the facility. But the relocation remains a dream: reasons? The SDA has allowed the construction of more slums at the bus stand, then getting the previous ones removed.
Giving a damn to the interests of Srinagar with regard to traffic management, the government last year allowed the conversion of the Parim Pora bus stand into a slum, where workers of a political party where rehabilitated.
Officials confirmed to Kashmir Observer that it all started in 2014 post September floods, when a politician wielding influence in the Batamaloo constituency, where the twin bus stands lie, lobbied to rehabilitate some of the flood victims from his vote bank inside the Parim Pora bus stand.
Officials said as the campaigning for the Assembly elections started, a then middle-rung official at the SDA helped the politician persuade the then SDA VC and other officials to allow the conversion of the bus stand into the rehabilitation camp for the victims of his constituency.
To come up with the constructions, the authorities roped in services of some NGOs, who initially constructed some two dozen prefabricated structures for the flood affected families.
But the process didnt end there. By the time elections concluded and new government was in place, in 2015 scores of new structures came up inside the Parim Pora bus stand till the government facility got converted into a full-fledged slum.
While the issue went unnoticed for months together, it gained prominence in April this year when the government decided to close down the traffic on the arterial Jahangir Chowk-Ram Bagh (JCRB) route in the wake of ongoing construction of the JCRB flyover.
Following the deadly collapse of a flyover in metropolitan Kolkatta, Governor NN Vohra had sought safety audit of the JCRB flyover. This was when the divisional administration realized that it was risky to let vehicles ply down the JCRB route.
Though the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon subsequently called a high level meeting seeking closure of the road and sought subsequent traffic diversion plan, the only possible alternative was pushing the traffic to south city via the Batamaloo-Mominanbad Tengpora highway.
Though the route plan was executed, the traffic mess worsened. This route failed to serve a dedicated corridor due to the presence of the congested Batamaloo bus stand enroute. The facility awaits relocation for years while the traffic diversion plan had only furthered the need for relocation.
But nothing happened on the ground. Batamaloo bus stand cannot be shifted to Parim Pora because the latter location has been converted into slum and unless hutments are removed, nothing can be achieved, said a senior official in the SDA asking not be identified.
But then, how was the Parim Pora facility converted into a slum? SDA insiders said two years ago, a politician managed improving ties with the officials there through one of his henchmen then working there.
The conversion of bus stand into slum was decided over a Trami of Wazwan, recapped an SDA insider adding those who had objected to the move were booked under a fake case at Parim Pora police station.
Though recently junior minister Asieya Naqash told the Legislative Assembly that the Batmaloo bus stand would be shifted to Parim Pora, scores of new hutments have come up at the bus stand.
SDA officials expressed inability to take remedial measures. This is political decision Now the divisional and district administration need to take action, said a senior SDA official.
The slum was developed by the district administration, unless it removes the hutments how can we act? he asked.
Officials said given the media outcry over the conversion of the bus stand into slum, Divisional Commissioner while chairing a high level meeting to discuss the matter of traffic regulation on May 4 had asked District Commissioner Srinagar, Farooq Ahmed Lone to get the hutments removed. Till now, the execution of orders is awaited.
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