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Convenient inconvenience

Good quality infrastructure is a key ingredient for sustainable development. An efficient transport system, well-placed road connectivity, sanitation, energy and communications systems are necessary to prosper, and it provides a decent standard of living for their populations. Viewing in this context, the construction of a flyover from Exhibition crossing to Ram Bagh is welcome. We would rather say that the project should have been taken into hand much earlier. Better late than never. That however should in no way come at the cost of peoples’ convenience. The disorder and disarray that the flyover construction is causing to public transport is a serious matter which needs immediate attention of the authorities. Even as the government has regulated the traffic to some extent by diverting to other exit routes but that has not lessened the problems of the travellers. Traveling is not grueling just on this road only. The other city roads have become longer and time consuming. Most of the office goers and trades have to take their ways well ahead hours. The huge traffic jams at Panta Chwok, Hydrepora, Ram Bagh, Exhibition Chowk, Batamaloo, Qamarwari, Budshah Chowk and Dalgate has reached unparalleled proportions. Panta Chowk is a classic case. It chokes the city from south and east ends completely. Former chief minister (late) Mufti Mohammad Saeed deserves a special mention for the great work he did by widening the road at Panthachowk that has brought great relief to the commuters and passengers. The traffic congestion at Qamarwari clogs the city from the west end. The left-over (north end) gets blocked with huge jams at Soura and city interiors like Khanyar and Rainawari. Huge traffic snarls are reported from other parts of the city as well. There is a traffic bottleneck every day and everywhere in the city that causes slowdown in movement of the vehicles. The slowing down of the movement ultimately ends at adding to the mess on the roads. It should not be deemed with surprise if a commuter complains of wasting hours on city roads before reaching his or her place of work. There are instances when a commuter had to wait for two to three to get cleared of the traffic jam at Panta Chowk. The scene at other places in the city is no different. On occasions, it takes about an hour for a commuter to reach Lal Chowk from Hyderpora or Rawalpora. The mess right from Ram Bagh to exhibition chowk is so grueling and time consuming that many a commuters, who have their work places in and around Lal Chowk, have made it a habit to leave their homes in early morning hours. The mess on prestigious Boulevard Road, which is the face of Kashmir tourism, is even more agonizing. The evening time, when there is large presence of tourists in the area, is messier. The installation of traffic signals has not helped to the level one had expected in regulation of traffic at Exhibition ground. The commuters could not be absolved completely for the mess. The moment the light turns red, cars zip past in a flash. The zebra-crossing is blocked by cars, forcing pedestrians to make their way through the vehicles. Shameless drivers on the wrong side, nosing through illegal cuts, taking U-turns before roundabouts, driving with mobiles – all are direct causes of the mess on the roads. What makes things murkier is the indifference of the police supposed to manage the traffic. One can see policemen busy with gossip or talking to individual pedestrians and drivers on the fringes little caring about traffic madness around. Undoubtedly, much needs to be done for regulation of traffic in the city to make life easy for the people. The development of road infrastructure is the primary need but it cannot be done overnight. It would take time. But the government little appears to be conscious of this primary requirement. It has no idea of how to clear the mess on roads. Chief Minister Mahbooba Mufti needs to take personal interest in this public urgency matter and start from where her father had left.