Upgrading traffic management

Both capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu have witnessed big influx in population in recent years. This is because of urbanization process that has been the national phenomenon also. More industries are established closer to the capital cities because some essential facilities required for the survival of industries are easily available in the cities. Power, electricity, communication, and transportation are among the facilities. This is the reason why our planners are impressing upon the Government to take developments programmes to the rural areas in order to relieve the cities and towns of congestion, pollution and other problems. Owing to improvement in the economic condition of our people over the years more and more of them are capable to own private vehicles. This has led to huge congestion of traffic on the main roads of the capital cities. Increased population, expanded number of vehicles, great spurt in commercial activities and many more things has contributed to the crowding and congesting of the cities.
In a meeting organized to consider all round upgrading of traffic management and improvement in the city of Srinagar, the chief minster has emphasized that the regularizing of city traffic should be on scientific manner. This is  an important decision and one would like to see that it is translated into practice. The issue of upgrading and improving traffic has been there before the authorities since a long time and we have so often reflected on it in these columns. When we say that traffic has to be regulated along modern scientific lines, a number of things come forward. In the first place owing to no planning in town building our cities have very narrow streets which cannot be widened because of enormous amounts of compensation involved. It is only at some of the bottlenecks where few buildings and houses can be razed to the ground and space made for easing the flow of traffic. No workable solution has been found to road and footpath encroachment. No solution has been found to remove street vendors from piling up their merchandise at any and every available space along the road and thus create traffic snarls. No proper regulating of the city buses so that the culture of travelling smart is introduced. The city buses often called mini buses stop at any place whether recommended by the Traffic Police or not. Even a word must be said about the type of mini buses that are plying on the streets of Srinagar or Jammu. These are small and most uncomfortable buses that carry a maximum of 18 passengers. These mini buses are most unfit for the city traffic. The drivers are not educated about traffic rules nor do they observe them because there is no accountability.
We think that the first thing which needs to be done in a mission of upgrading the traffic management system in the State is that the blemish that Traffic Police is the most corrupt organization in the State shall have to be removed for ever. Complaints of corruption at every level in this department are coming in day in and day out and yet no foolproof mechanism is adopted to overcome the menace. One of the measures that might work to some satisfaction is that there should be full awareness in the civil society to play its role in controlling bribery among the traffic police force. There is a grievance cell in the Traffic Police Department but it has to be made active and result oriented. Any complaint brought to it should be examined and disposed of within 24 hours. A dependable system that monitors registration of complaints to their disposal should be in place to keep a check on the efficiency of the traffic police in removing the complaints. There is great need of overhauling the license issue system in the Transport Department. It should be possible for the driving license issuing authority to conduct surprise check of the recipients of fresh licenses at least for a period of six months to ensure that the license is not issued to a fake person and that the driver of the vehicle is the one in whose name license has been issued.
A major snarl to city vehicular traffic is that there are not enough parking lots available for parking the vehicles. The owners are forced to park their cars on the roadside and to face the hassle that follows. The need of the hour is that there should be multi-storey parking structure in the city where at least a thousand cars can be parked. This is the new system that has been adopted in all developed countries to ease traffic jams.
We welcome the suggestions made by the Chief Minister and other officers in the review meeting. We have to take into account the ground situation first and foremost. There are short term remedies and there are long term plans. All that can be done under short term remedy should be done now.


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