Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and is the most densely populated city in Kashmir Division. Day by day the number of vehicles is increasing and most part of city is badly affected by huge traffic jams. Faulty traffic signaling systems, inadequate manpower, narrow road spaces and overtaking tendency of drivers create pro-longed traffic congestions. Due to traffic jams, a substantial portion of working hours gets wasted on streets which indirectly put adverse impact on economy. It causes serious air pollution and noise pollution and thus worsens the overall environmental condition.
At the peak hours the student community suffers the most as they are not able to reach their destinations on time. Not blaming anyone as the various attempts were taken by the administration in the past too and in fact some tangible improvements were assured within the shortest possible time. But the basic problem of the city's traffic system is that the existing road network is incapable of holding the ever-increasing number of motor vehicles. Thus, the solution doesn’t lie only in the installation of electronic signals or increase in the number of traffic police. The effective use of the two might provide some temporary relief but not a permanent solution. And here the basic solution could be the vehicle management or the car ownership management and the steps in this may include strictly following the rules while providing the driving licenses, insurance policy of the vehicles and overall general documents required for owning a vehicle.
At the same time the administration needs to consider widening of existing roads throughout the city, construction of circular embankment-cum-road along the periphery of the city, grade separated road network system and for the time being the introduction of the bus transit system is the best solution of the problem and among this all the planning of the operating electronic buses in city under smart city project in coming days is a welcoming step too. This will make the public transport commuter friendly, offering the various kinds of conveniences and services on board and reduce the pollution and decongest traffic situation. Pointing out the causes, one may say that it is not only the incapability of roads holding the ever-increasing traffic in Srinagar city but the Traffic rule violations, unplanned stoppage or parking of vehicles, Lack of law implementation, Lack or driving training, Inefficient traffic police, Lack of Integration and absence of mass traffic system are there at the top most causes of the traffic jams in Srinagar city.
After the incapability of roads, the Traffic rule violations is the second main cause of traffic jams and quoting the statement from the study that, in general 80% of the vehicle operators are aware of traffic rule. But among them only 27% strictly follow the traffic rules. 60% follows traffic rules moderately and 13% never follow traffic rules, which itself is a very alarming case in terms of safety also. And to overcome this cause the traffic police must be efficient to maintain traffics. Traffic police should be strict in its actions while dealing with the cases.Third we do not have any proper planned parking facility in the Srinagar City except the semi-mechanized multi-level car parking facility at old KMD stand in Lal Chowk which is functional from the May, 2107. The need of such parking spaces is more to reduce the congestion from the roads due to haphazardly parked vehicles.The fact is that the illegal parking is further encouraged by the lack of improper implementation of laws which itself is a major cause of traffic jams so, law enforcement should be strict.The fourth and important is the lack of proper training to the drivers and lack of driving sense which are causing traffic jam. And at fifth there are few other causes which can be seen from the vehicle operators point of view and are responsible for causing traffic jams and these include Lack of awareness, Not enough space for U turn, Presence of hawkers beside the roads, Poor signaling system, Inefficient traffic police, Lack of Integration and absence of mass traffic system.
Due to traffic jam, we are suffering economically, physically and even mentally. So, the need is to work on this vital issue and have the realistic possible solutions. The very first among the short term plans starts from the general people by encouraging to walk by foot to the nearby destinations but here the government needs to improve the pedestrians facility first. Maximum use of road width should be ensured and making sure to free the occupied road spaces by the hawkers, salesman and shopkeepers. A significant portion always remains occupied by construction materials and waste-containers of the SMC. As a result, vehicles do not get sufficient space to move on. Such road side activities creating problem for the traffic should be controlled.
Traffic management system of Srinagar city is not automated and well-equipped as listed earlier so all the junctions are not facilitated with signal lights. And even if there are lights, most often those remain out of order. Moreover, uneven flow of vehicles from different directions reduces the effectiveness of traffic signals. So the Modern signaling system should be introduced. And among the long term plans there may be Environment sustainable transport, Mass Rapid Transit and Grade separated road network. It is essential to minimize the negative impact of transport sector on environment and create increased transport related environmental awareness in society. The second long term plan is to place all the reliance on the transit systems and for this at the beginning of introducing the metro or other modes we need to stress on the Bus rapid system and As system capacities are exceeded, the ultimate system will need to include other transit systems.
The first priority should be to maximize the existing resources by a strong traffic management system. And the last but not the least is that the ‘grade separated’ road network can be established as a third major long term plan. Also the Current road condition can be improved along with creating fly-over bridges and elevated highways above the roads.
(Author is Civil engineer at UAE based organization)