Couple of days ago one of my friend's father while discussing the days gone by told me that back in 1980's he used to travel from Pulwama to Kupwara and back each day. He said that he used to leave from Pulwama around 7 in the morning and reach Chowkibal (Kupwara) by 10 am. And I began to think is it possible to pull off this feat today and I concluded, only in one's dream.
Why is that when the whole world has shrunk (with respect to communication & travel), Kashmir seems to be expanding; places, people seems to be growing farther apart. Well for that credit must go to the highly intelligent people responsible for planning.
There are almost 9,08,083 vehicles registered with the Motor Vehicles Department (MVD) in the state. Of these 5,60,690 vehicles stand registered in the Jammu division and 3,47,393 in the Kashmir division, but as far length & breadth of roads is concerned it is pretty much same as it was in 1980's. With every day the number of vehicles seem to be doubling, a lot of people can't help it but blame J&K Bank for this explosion of vehicles.
Now when the water has risen above our heads we are throwing our hands around. The Govt is talking about water transport, it isn't something new for kashmir. Kashmir, especially Srinagar, came to be known as Vince of East only because of its excellent and extensive water transport. What I fail to understand is how is the Govt going to revive water transport when all the channels have been filled and a road has been build over the main stream (Nallah Mar). Govt can Start water transport only along the river Jehlum and nothing more than that can be achieved. Thanks to some selfish morons the Vince of east has been reduced to a dustbin. These were the people who allowed construction around Dal lake (Boulevard) and removed the clause of mandatory approval from state legislature. Shouldn't these people be put on trial and punished for what they have turned Srinagar into?
Coming back to the traffic issue, Govt has been widening roads but it feels like that it has been going on for ever, never to complete. It feels like ages since the work for widening of Srinagar-Baramulla highway was started and there is no hope that it will be completed soon. The sopore bye-pass bridge even after more than 25 years has not been completed, has some one contacted "Guinness Book of World Record's" yet. Expansion of roads needs lot of effort but what I fail to understand is the underutilization of even the current infrastructure. What is stopping Govt from making both the lanes of all important Qamarwari-SKIMS road operational. These ill conceived and ill implemented projects rather than easing the travel of common people have become pain in the wrong place for them, besides endangering lives. Share of accidental deaths is more than violence related deaths now and people die for the need of timely medical attention because there vehicle was stuck in a traffic jam.
Govt has build flyovers which hardly serve any purpose (Jehangir Chowk) while where there is a real need for one, none is build due to funds shortage. It almost took an eternity for Hyderpora flyover to complete, oh wait it is still incomplete! Or at places (near Pattan) such flyovers were built which I personally am not too sure that they can be called a flyover, overhead foot bridges are broader then them. Shouldn't the Govt. be held accountable for such wastage of public money and people responsible for such wastage punished?
What all this gives us is traffic jams, lots of traffic jams and to add icing on the top the people who are supposed to handle & manage traffic, say that it is all because people don’t have sense of driving. Well my dear friends even God had to invent Hell to try to keep humans on the right path then how do you expect them to drive the right way when you don't punish them for driving otherwise. It is not a secret that traffic police is a namesake department in Kashmir, half a dozen people with nothing more than sticks to manage traffic of a whole state. There is no denying the fact that people themselves to some extent are responsible for this mess but at the same time authorities can't shrug off their responsibility.
Thinking of my friend's father's daily journey in 80's and how successful one would be if attempted today. If he/she is lucky enough will be caught in traffic jam at Pantha Chowk for only about half an hour but then for sure will have to spend another two hours stuck in traffic at HMT which will force him to start the return journey from there only. But why the hell will authorities care, it is not their lives which have been taken hostage by traffic jams.
(Also Appeared in "The Kashmir Monitor" http://kashmirmonitor.org/04212012-ND-of-traffic-jams-water-transport-mess-25058.aspx )