Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday said that the Batamaloo bus stand has to go in the larger public interest and for better traffic management.
Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal had informed the court that Batamaloo bus stand had been sealed and the new Parimpora bus stand had been made operational. The counsel for the petitioner who had filed a PIL on thre matter submitted before the court that the sealing had not so far been actually carried out and that the Batamaloo bus stand was still occupied by buses.
After hearing both the counsels, the court directed Advocate Ateeb Kanth to visit both the Batamaloo and Parimpora bus stands and submit a report on whether or not the bus stand had been shifted. Directions were also issued to DC Srinagar to provide assistance in this matter.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey remarked that every bottleneck which comes in the way of smooth traffic has to be removed, and the government is duty-bound to do so.
“It is so irritating when the same thing is being repeated again and again. We have become addicted to it because we don’t want change, which actually is very important as well as necessary,” Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed said.
The SMC commissioner, Shafkat Hussain, who was present before the court, submitted photographs of the municipal corporation’s drive for removal of encroachments on roads and pavements. He stated that most areas in Srinagar city had been cleared of encroachments and the drive was still in progress.
With regard to intelligent traffic management system, the SMC commissioner informed the court that junction layouts had been approved and the concerned agency would take up work on September 15. The court directed that an updated report should be submitted before the court on the next hearing.
The court directed the DC Srinagar to come up with a report on a systematic parking plan on the next hearing. The court said that Srinagar, being on the “smart city” list, had to be beautified as befitted an advanced city.
The court was informed that the R&B department had identified structures at Qamarwari that need to be removed. The court directed that prior to the removal of structures the SSP traffic must take necessary steps to ensure no hindrance in traffic movement.
It was also submitted before the court that the construction of the Rambagh Flyover was going on apace with workers engaged in night shifts to complete the work early. The court directed that a concrete timeline for the completion of the project should be submitted before it.
The transport commissioner, who was not present before court on Tuesday, did not submit the action plan on traffic decongestion which the court had asked for on the previous hearing.
The court ordered that in case the action plan was not submitted within two weeks, it would issue contempt notice against the transport commissioner.
Additional Advocate General BA Dar, representing the Labour Commission department, submitted before the court that the issue of enforcement of holidays on different market days had been done area-wise in the backdrop of the traffic management plan.
The court directed the commissioner secretary to government, Labour Commission, to take inputs from the SSP Traffic on the said proposal and submit a report on the next date of hearing.
The court also directed chairman, State Pollution Control Board (SPCB), to submit a detailed report on pollution levels in Srinagar. The court observed that over the years, the SPCB has not done anything with regard to control of pollution levels and still nothing much is being done.
The monitoring stations’ report presented before the court indicated that at 10 randomly selected “silent zones” in Srinagar, noise pollution had increased to 90-100 decibels when it should be 40 decibels maximum.
““The silent zones have been turned into industrial zones. What is the way out?” Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed said.
A Transport Department official informed the court that with respect to the issue of pollution under control (PUC) certificates, 70 licences have been identified, 12 cancelled, 38 put under the scanner, and 12 given a go-ahead.
The court said, “We have already heard this, what now? You have not understood the orders passed by court. We want results on ground, not mere paper work. Do it on ground or we will take you to task.”
The court also directed Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, to convene a meeting with the SMC Commissioner, SSP Traffic, Chief Engineer R&B, and the Pollution Control Board to prepare an action plan for traffic management and to report it on the next hearing.
The court also directed various departments to thoroughly go through the Environment Act 1986, Noise Pollution Control Act 2000, and the Motor Vehicles Act, to better understand how traffic can be managed with minimal effect on the environment.
The High Court issued a contempt notice to the Chief Engineer of the Roads & Buildings department for failing to comply with court orders on the decongestion plan for transport in Srinagar city. The court directed him to be present on September 20 to answer why court orders weren’t followed.