SRINAGAR: Roads, the main support system of modern lifestyle, are turning into a major annoyance for people in Kashmir valley. Many see commuting as a “great inconvenience” of their everyday life, in some cases even leading to accidents.
The challenge of commuting on dusty, potholed roads takes a toll on the health of motorists as well as pedestrians. Government, commuters say, has failed to make timely repairs after weather and unplanned development works “leave the roads dilapidated”.
“I drive to work every day and spend at least an hour and half in traffic jams,” says Mohsin Shah, a resident of Chadoora town in central Budgam district. “Economic Reconstruction Agency dug open the road in 2016 to lay a pipeline. It has not repaired the road since.”
The condition is worse for residents of villages on Chadoora-Surasyar road. “The underside of my car hits the tarmac at dozens of places between Surasyar and Chadoora. My car goes for repair every month,” Sheeraz Raina, a resident of Surasyar village, 12 kilometers to the west of Chadoora, told Kashmir Reader.
This is just one example of people’s anguish about bad roads in valley. Residents of Parimpora, Wanbal (Nowgam), Budshah Nagar, Rawalporah, Qawamari, Hawal, and Badamwari complain of similar problems.
The roads leading to most of these areas are bumpy and dotted with potholes. Residents complain that transporters are reluctant to ply their vehicles on these roads, forcing residents to walk. “Employees and students suffer the most. They fail to make it to work and classes in time as the public transport barely plies on these dilapidated roads,” said Mohammad Farooq Bhat, a resident of Bemina. “A lot of auto drivers and bikers have lost control on these road and scores of vehicles have been damaged.”
“Since 2014”, a Budshah Nagar resident complained, “our road is in bad shape. But nothing has been done due to which this road and chances of accident have increased”.
Speaking to Kashmir Reader, Chief Engineer of Roads and Buildings Department, Abdul Hameed Sheikh, said that repairing and patch work of roads has been taken up recently. “In Srinagar city, there is drainage problem and mecademization is not water-proof. Water acts like acid on macadamized roads,” he said. “If water ran off, it wouldn’t create problems. But it stays pooled on the roads for a long time”. He said that development works were the other main reason because departments have to dig the roads for various works”.
Sheikh said that rigid pavement, where roads are cemented, was the solution to these problems. “It is costly but it is the permanent solution. We are laying a rigid road, one-kilometer-long, near Brain Nishat as a trial”.
“Under World Bank project for macadamized roads, we are targeting one thousand kilometers of roads for macadamization,” Sheikh added. Under the expenditures listed for cities and towns, he said, the department has to repair around 400 kilometers of roads.