Residents demand restrictions on their movement; Students ask district administration to intervene
Shopian: Every morning, when students, businessmen and office goers leave their homes for school and work, their journey is brought to a grinding halt on the streets of the town. Tractors, several dozens of them, carrying construction material to different parts of the district, pass through the town and create severe traffic jams. To an onlooker, Shopian looks like a tractor town.
While the image might suit the idea of agrarian society Kashmir largely is, residents of this district demand a ban on the passage of tractors with trolleys through the main market between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. They allege that these tractors create frequent traffic jams, damage the road infrastructure, waste precious work hours and cause health hazards for people in the town.
“About 50 tractors carry boulders, sand and gravel from the river to different parts of main town and adjoining villages through the main market. It causes frequent traffic jams,” said Mubashir Ahmed, a resident of Shopian town, who travels to Pulwama, the adjoining town for work every morning. “We are always caught in a traffic jam, never able to get to work in time”.
A group of senior citizens, lead by Mushtraq Ahmad Malik, a businessman in Shopian town, told Kashmir Reader that the traffic jams because of movement of tractors was causing trouble for students and businessmen as well. “Students are late to school. Businessmen find their shop fronts blocked off by traffic. It is a daily struggle,” said Malik. “The road that runs through the market is narrow. These tractor drivers don’t leave any space even for ambulances. And authorities do not care”.
These senior citizens say that they had brought the problem to the notice of deputy commissioner of Shopian, but no action was taken despite assurances that “he will take action”.
A group of school children told Kashmir Reader that they get off their school buses and walk to school. “There are so many tractors on the road that our bus stands in one place,” said one of them. They said they want the authorities to intervene.
Shopkeepers say that the carriage of building material is a health hazard too. “They do not cover the sand and gravel they carry through the town. Wafts of dust and sand lift from their trolleys and settle on the roads and buildings around. The air is dusty, and causes chest and throat infections, especially among children,” said a shopkeeper. “Gravel and boulders fall off the trolleys and make the roads dangerous for pedestrians,” he said.
Another shopkeeper added, “A stone that slipped from under the tyre of a vehicle hit my leg. I still have problems in walking despite treatment”.
When contacted, Senior Superintendent of police in Shopian, S A Dinka, said that he will look into this matter. “I will see what can be done in this regard,” he said. However, despite many attempts, the Shopian’s deputy commissioner, Manzoor Ahmad Qadri, could not be contacted for comment.