Vehicle population in J&K increases by over 300% in 15 years

Srinagar, Jul 11: Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed over 300 percent increase in vehicle population for the last 15-years.

There were around 7 lakh vehicles in 2008 and their number has reached around 24 lakh indicating over 300 percent increase in traffic for the last 15 years.

“Road density has increased by only 40 per cent in the last 10 years but roads are facing heavy rush of vehicles,” a senior government official said.

There are several roads, which have not been widened over the years.

The Zero Bridge at Rajbagh, is a critical route, as it’s a gateway to the heart of the city, Lal Chowk. When we studied this road, it was found that there was virtually no difference between peak and non-peak hours since rush hour is a round-the-clock phenomenon.

The situation is worsened by roadside vendors and hawkers at Hari Singh High street, Lal Chowk, who not only occupy the road, but also lead to huge traffic snarls.

The Natipora junction, an arterial road that merges the traffic from two sides, is a perennial nightmare for commuters.

The situation is the same in other parts of the valley. The Boulevard widening project was approved by the government in 2009. Despite that the project is yet to be executed.

“Due to the ill planning of the government there is a lot of overcrowding and congestion in the town as illegal constructions including shops continue to thrive with the tacit support of the municipal council authorities,” lamented Rafiq Ahmad, a resident of Shopian.

The Traffic Department officials said that the increase in number of challans implies that the traffic department is collecting more revenue for the government. “The more the Traffic Department challans to traffic violators, the more revenue is being generated for the government. There have been strict instructions to the department to impose fines on everyone who violates the traffic rules. Thousands of vehicles have also been seized over the years,” an official of the Traffic Department, said.

Besides, roads in Kashmir have thousands of blind spots or curves. Vehicles colliding, skidding and turning turtle are often reported, for which the people have to pay the price.

A Junior Engineer at Roads and Buildings department (R&B) department said there are multiple reasons for road accidents. He said, “First, it’s wasteful to have roads that don’t have adequate and unobstructed footpaths. Unfortunately, a majority of the roads in the Srinagar city fall in this category. Either there is no space for people to walk on or the space is just symbolic.”

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