OPENING of Tulip garden for public is drawing thousands of tourists and locals to witness 1.5 million flowers in bloom at Zabarwan foothills. Formerly known as Siraj Bagh, the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden was opened in 2008 by then chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir Ghulam Nabi Azad to boost tourism in the Valley. Manoj Sinha, the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, announced at the opening ceremony that about 68 types of tulips will bloom this year. He said that last year, the garden had witnessed 3.60 lakh visitors, which is the highest since it was opened. We are likely to surpass this number this year.
That said, the throngs of people visiting tulip garden have clogged the Boulevard, the principal approach road to it. The peak traffic hours remain a horror. A chaotic spectacle plays out on the road every day. It takes hours to travel a distance of a few kilometres to work. And there is no hope that things can improve until the tulip garden is closed by April end. Until then, the traffic congestion is set to continue.
This has been a source of severe inconvenience to people living in the neighbourhoods surrounding Boulevard. Some localities are being choked by more vehicles than they have ever seen before, with traffic snarls fueled by an unrestricted tourist rush to tulip garden. People can’t reach their workplaces, students to their schools and patients to the hospitals. They are endlessly stranded on the roads. Traffic often spills over into the interiors of the colonies. What is more, there is no end in sight to this ordeal, forcing the residents to take long detours which, in turn, has disrupted their lives. Many of them have expressed their helplessness by posting videos on social media platforms. These include patients caught in the unending jam stretching miles.
This is why the administration needs to pay urgent attention to this sad state of affairs. The grievances of the ordinary residents of the Dal areas shouldn’t become subservient to those who come from outside, even though we need to do everything to encourage tourism in Srinagar, as also elsewhere in the valley. But there’s a need for a balancing act between promoting tourism and ensuring that the lives of the local residents aren’t impacted. One remedy for this is to better regulate the traffic. The administration can resort to many innovative means to achieve this: for example by not allowing people to drive in their personal vehicles to the tulip and the other gardens along Boulevard. The administration should make an alternative transport arrangement to ferry people along the boulevard. There are several other solutions that can be evolved and the traffic department is quite capable of dealing with the situation. That is, provided the administration takes an empathetic view of the woes of the people in the neighbourhood.
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