Seeking cooperation and suggestions from all stakeholders and civil society, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, Friday described traffic management as a huge challenge, especially in view of long-term transport system that is being executed in the capital cities and major towns.
She said while the administration will have to find quick solution to the traffic congestion and mobility problem on urban and rural routes, it is for the civil society, especially youth, to show the way by their own conduct on roads. “The student community and trader organizations could lead by voluntarily taking to new concepts of traffic decongestion like odd-even plan and car pooling,” she said, while chairing a high-level meeting to find workable solution which incorporates better traffic management into people’s daily commute.
Director General of Police, K. Rajendra Kumar, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Navin K. Chaudhary, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon, IGP, Kashmir Zone, SJM Gillani, IG Traffic, Shafkat Watali, Transport Commissioner, Pervez Khateeb, Commissioner SMC, Bashir Ahmad Khan, Director ULBs, Kashmir, Tufail Mattoo and all Deputy Commissioners of the valley attended the meeting.
Reaching out to professional colleges and university-going students to take lead in adopting the concept of odd-even plan, the Chief Minister said Traffic, Municipality, R&B as well as District Police will have to sit together and sort out issues so that movement of vehicles is better managed and spaces cluttered by encroachments are restored to the general public in our cities and towns. She tasked the DCs to play the role of Nodal Officers in coordinating the efforts of the enforcement agencies in their respective districts so that tangible results are achieved on the ground.
Recognizing the huge challenge posed by ever-growing traffic congestion and blatant encroachment of public spaces, Mehbooba Mufti asked the enforcement wings to get their act together so that some respite is provided to the commuters and pedestrians, who find their space shrinking with each passing day. She also asked DGP to commit additional manpower to the traffic wing for better regulation in movement of vehicles.
“Shifting of offices after Darbar Move further aggravates the problem. Therefore, putting a proper mechanism in place is the need of the hour,” she said, while calling for stringent action against those who defy rules and use mobile phones while driving and jump traffic signals.
The Chief Minister was informed by SSP Traffic, Maqsood-uz-Zaman that to manage 3.50 lakh vehicles, only 500 personnel are presently available for manning 120 intersections, even when the actual requirement is 1200.
To restrict increasingly surging traffic from north and south corridors from entering the city centre which is already bursting at its seams, Mehbooba Mufti also passed directions for making Parimpora and Pantha Chowk Bus Stands immediately functional. She also directed Chief Engineer R&B and CEO ERA to start immediate up-gradation and resurfacing of city roads as the pressure on these has increased manifold due to diversion of traffic from Rambagh to Jahangir Chowk, because of construction of flyover.
Stressing upon restoring the sanctity of pedestrian walkways and motorable roads, the Chief Minister directed Municipal Commissioner to start Aadhar-based biometric registration of all hawkers and street vendors. This, she said will help in their relocation to identified clusters within the city centre, preferably closer to bus terminals, where they can earn their livelihood with dignity. “The authority of the government has to be strictly enforced in evicting encroachers who have eaten up our footpaths and walkways, thus making it literally impossible for the pedestrians to even tread around the city centre,” she said, while fixing a deadline of 50 days to start the process of Aadhar-based mapping of vendors and hawkers.
The DGP informed the meeting that a company will be placed at the disposal of Commissioner SMC to help evict encroachers from footpaths and walkways .
Mehbooba Mufti said till our multi-tier parking facilities become functional, regular parking slots have to be identified in the vicinity of Lal Chowk for easing traffic congestion. She also floated the idea of creating ’non-vehicular traffic zones’ in the city which could provide walking space for locals and visiting tourists. “We can start with Polo View and Koker Bazaar, where apart from locals, tourists could go and explore shopping opportunities and take back a different opinion of the place,” she added.
On expansion of KMD parking slot in the heart of the Srinagar city, the Chief Minister issued directions for immediate shifting of Ranbir Govt Printing Press to its new premises at Pampore. Once complete, the parking will accommodate nearly 1000 cars, which is expected to bring some relief to the people.
Earlier, SSP Traffic briefed the Chief Minister about major bottlenecks and short-term solutions for better regulation of traffic, till such time when the flyover and grade separators being constructed in the summer capital become functional. Some of the recommendations highlighted include up-gradation of diversion roads, permanent removal of pavement encroachments, cap on registration of commercial and private vehicles, car pooling, slated holidays of different markets and blanket ban on future construction of commercial structures in residential areas.
While obtaining current status of ongoing road projects from the Deputy Commissioners of Kashmir province, the Chief Minister suggested better synergy between execution and enforcement agencies for ensuring time-bound completion of all road projects. She also issued directions for providing better connectivity to all tourist destinations so that visitors, expected to arrive in large numbers, are not inconvenienced.
Also present in the meeting were DCs, Farooq Ahmad Lone, Tariq Hussain Ganai, Shaukat Ejaz, Neeraj Kumar, Vinod Ranjan, Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, Mir Altaf, Yasha Mudgal, G. M. Dar and Sajad Hussain Ganai, VC SDA, Tehseen Mustafa and Chief Town Planner, Iftikhar Hakim, besides representatives of Project Beacon, NHAI and RAMKY.