The traffic congestion is strangling Srinagar. Despite shutdown, a chaotic spectacle plays out on the streets every day. Things haven’t gotten any better following Darbar Move to Jammu. There is hardly any road which doesn’t experience a gridlock for a better part of the day, with the peak hour traffic witnessing the worst logjams. The major points of this chaos are the Hari Singh High Street, Qamarwari, Batamaloo, Pantha Chowk, Tengpora, Sanat Nagar etc where the traffic from all sides converges and churns up a bedlam of noise and disorder. The passenger vehicles, cars, SUVs, autos etc all mingle and reduce the movement to fits and starts. But there is nothing new about this. For years now, Srinagar has been reeling under the burgeoning traffic. And with every year, the situation is getting worse. The reason, as we all know, is that the city’s road length is not commensurate with the exponential growth in the traffic volume. Though an inordinately belated effort is now afoot to increase the city’s road density, it falls woefully short of the requirement. So, even when flyover connecting Hari Singh Street with Rambagh is now functional, the situation has made no conspicuous difference. The problem is that our city planners aren’t thinking for the long term. Their approach is essentially adhocist and reactionary in nature. The projects which should have been conceived and implemented a decade ago are being taken up now. What is more, the government seems far from serious about the issue.
A few years ago, the State Government was contemplating a 115 km long ring road for Srinagar. The Town Planning Organization had incorporated the ambitious project in the revised Master Plan for the city. The road was proposed to take the traffic pressure off the core city. The three-tier ring road would connect East and North areas of the city with those on the West side. The road is designed to smoothen traffic between Budgam and Hazratbal and Nishat and Baramulla, which otherwise have no direct connectivity. Most of the three-tier ring road would comprise four to eight lane roads. The pre-feasibility report of the road haf already been completed in 2011 and the nod received from the centre for its funding. The report was prepared after numerous sample surveys and the GIS mapping of the city. However, it will take years before the proposed project becomes a reality. The new government under Lieutenant Governor Girish Chander Murmu should dust off this project in right earnest as there is a dire need to address the city’s transportation woes. The project offers a hope that the traffic situation in the UT could change for the better in the long term.