By Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Mar 28: While the legislators irrespective of their party affiliations today grilled the Government on the issue of growing problem of massive traffic jams in Jammu and Srinagar cities in the Upper House, the Chairman of the House, Amrit Malhotra, expressing grave concern allowed a detailed discussion in the current session of the Legislature, seeking suggestions from the members.
The issue was raised by National Conference Legislator from Doda, Khalid Najeeb Suhrawardy who sought the steps taken by the Government in curbing massive traffic jams in Srinagar, Jammu, National Highways and Doda area. He said every year the issue is raised in the Legislature and every time a casual reply is heard from the Government. The net result from all sides is zero. The Government claims to construct flyovers at Bikram Chwok, B C Road, Jewel Chowk, various parts of Srinagar city, widening of road etc but nothing is visible on the ground.
Huge volume of vehicular traffic goes unmanned. Traffic cops only ensure movement of VVIPs at the bottle-necks, otherwise they are hardly available to regulate the traffic. They always seem to be much interested in holding 2-3 commercial vehicles and making a deal with operators for easy buck. This has become the routine on the roads and highways. There is no check at all and no accountability. The things have gone from bad to worst and it has become very difficult for the ailing people to reach hospitals as they remain caught in jams. The Government and private employees and students are facing this problem daily. He said every time a mere assurance is given but nothing practical is coming out in this direction.
Ajay Kumar Sadhotra from NC said jam prone areas and their timings have been identified and every time it is told that there was shortage of manpower. Why agency is unable to tackle this issue during peak hours by making additional deployment. How do they manage the traffic with same strength when a VVIP passes that way.
Javed Rana from NC said that not only in Srinagar and Jammu, this problem is every where now, be it National Highway or other roads like Jammu-Rajouri-Poonch or in Mendhar town. This issue is needed to be tackled in the entire state by devising some effective mechanism. Jugal Kishore Sharma said over eighty lakh pilgrims visit Mata Vaishnodevi shrine every year. The traffic volume has increased on Jammu-Katra route. Lot of vehicles are caught in traffic jams. Alternate parking lots, road widening is needed.
Bashir Ahmed Magray from Congress said the Government in the last 4-5 years has projected the problem of shortage of traffic cops. If it was serious to tackle the issue, why adequate number of Traffic cops were not deployed to regulate the traffic at crucial points?
Mohd Ashraf Mir from PDP pointed out that despite tall claims of Govt many bottle necks at Srinagar City including Pantha Chowk, Dal Gate, HMT Chowk etc remain worst hit due to traffic jams. School going children, patients and employees remain trapped for hours together. No concrete steps are visible to tackle the issue.
Ghulam Qadir Pardesi (NC), Sayed Rafiq Shah from NPP, Dr Bashir Ahmed Veeri (NC), Ali Mohd Bhat and Jehangir Mir from Congress and Aga Sayed Rizvi from NC, also expressed their concerns over the issue and said that raising flyovers, over bridges, road widenings and creation of alternative roads was the need of the hour to tackle the issue. The members also stressed for the detailed discussion over the issue.
While responding on behalf of Minister for Transport, Minister in charge Law and RDD Ali Mohd Sagar, said that Government was seized of the matter. It is also true that the issue is of great importance. It is not that Government is not doing anything. Many steps have been taken in this regard. Fourth bridge on river Tawi near Bhagwati Nagar is almost ready. It will minimize traffic at Jewel Chowk and existing flyover side. The work on widening of Kunjwani-Satwari road is going on. The work on Bikram Chowk flyover in Jammu is being taken up by ERA shortly. Similarly several flyovers including Jehangir Chowk to Rambagh at a cost of Rs 256 crore have been proposed in Srinagar. Two-three new bridges are coming up at Jhelum and additional bus stands are being created. At district level roads are being widened and cooperation from all the sides is needed. M/S Rites agency has been engaged for preparation of a comprehensive Mobility Plan in Jammu and Srinagar cities. Doda road widening has also been taken up and a truck terminal at Akramabad in Doda at a cost of Rs 159 lakhs has been taken up. New bus stand at Doda is also under construction. He said some long terms and some short term measures are being taken to over come this problems.
By Gopal Sharma