It may be recalled that even though launching of Rapid Transport System, the metro rail, in the twin cities of the State, Jammu and Srinagar, remained a trending topic for many years, yet only as back as in 2016, the State Government decided to requisition the services of M/s RITES , a Government of India Undertaking through Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency , for preparing a Draft Plan in connection with this flagship scheme. This scheme remained very close to the explicit priorities of the present Coalition Government in Jammu and Kashmir but seemingly soon lost interest in furtherance of this “launch” to reach up to the exercise of implementation.
The Draft Plan prepared by M/S RITES has assumed the proportions of half live – half dead and is gathering dust somewhere in the ambiances of the administration. The need to conduct more studies and proceed further in consonance with the revised metro policy of the Government of India, has not been felt by the State Government as yet which is inexplicable.
We are haplessly watching increase in traffic on our already congested roads in both the cities day in and day out, throwing to winds any regulatory short term or patch work approach towards decongestion especially in the light of ever increase in the number of vehicles plying on our roads. Conventional methods of widening of roads, building flyovers etc not only have inherent limitations and involvement of tremendous cost factor but also serve as a very short term resolution. Increasing pollution levels are other causes of concern due to increase in automobile emission levels. Hence, launching of rapid transport system, at least in two major capital cities, has now become paramount and need of the hour.
In this connection, through the auspice of ERA, in the first phase, projects had to be prepared for the routes as suggested in the City Mobility Plan of Srinagar and Jammu. Even Government of Japan had shown willingness for technical Cooperation under their Technical Cooperation Programme for Metro and Railway projects in the main cities of different States of India. At the same time, it was made known that RITES would prepare Detailed Project Report for 45 kms length for Srinagar and 30 kms for Jammu. Accordingly, mid last year RITES duly submitted the Draft Plan to ERA .
These are the details of the much hyped project, as made known till date. No further development has reportedly taken place in the matter. It is reported that not even any deliberations of any sort have taken place with intent to inch forward in this alternate transport system which could ease a lot of traffic pressure on the roads of the two capital cities plus provide hassle free, time saving and comfortable transport service to the travelling public. Perhaps, this project has gone out of the focus of the State Government .That speaks for RITES having been not entrusted with any task to go further in respect of making more studies in both the capital cities in the light of the revised metro policy of the Government of India finalized in 2017.
The State could have availed of the technical and other support including financial, offered by the Japanese Government to major cities of India embarking upon introducing metro services after due acquiesce from the Central Government. Opportunities like these seldom come with the same ease and access. What other solutions do we otherwise have to fight traffic mess other than opting for metro services and gradually increasing their net work? It is no hidden fact that apart from the two capital cities, even major towns of the State are flooded with vehicular traffic and there appears to be no end to it.
Temptations to have the system at an early date, cannot be resisted when we find names like Bantalab, Nagbani, Bari Brahmana, Bus Stand etc with a total of 18 stations in Jammu and Nowgam , Bagh-e-Mehtab, Ram Bagh, Jawahar Nagar, Secretariat, Barbar Shah , Nowhatta, Hawal , Bemina , Badami Bagh, Lal Chowk etc in Srinagar to be covered under the Mass Rapid Transport System and expect the State Administration to take up this project seriously which can be managed without much difficulties as at present as compared to at a future unspecified date with more costs and pestering.