Traffic Mess: Reasons and Remedies

Traffic Mess: Reasons and Remedies

The shifting of the historic Batmaloo bus stand to Parimpora was supposed to alleviate traffic congestion in Srinagar city. But, as of now, there appears to be no palpable difference to the traffic mess in the city. On the face of it, the traffic mess appears to have become more intense. This might accrue from the Durbar Move wherein there is skeletal administration in Kashmir and , in terms of traffic management, there might be a skewed traffic managers to people/ vehicles ratio at work here. But, if this is trotted out as an excuse by the administration for the unregulated and uncontrolled traffic mess in Srinagar city, it does not wash. There can really be no excuse for what are actually lapses, omissions and commissions. In terms of the congestion and traffic chaos that defines Srinagar city- especially during peak hours- multiple reasons account for it. The major one that stands out is unplanned , or badly planned, urbanization. It stands to reason that the defining feature of cities, or perhaps more accurately, urban landscapes is population growth. This is both “organic” and inorganic. With respect to the former, there is a natural population growth that happens because of the obvious: new births and declining mortality rates, complemented by the needs and demands of the new population groups. In terms of the latter, cities attract migrants from the rural areas as well as other assorted outsiders. The reasons for this are usually economic: Cities offer more and better economic advancement and mobility. As a result, there is unusual stress on cities. Add to this increased vehicular traffic- private and commercial- and you have clogged and congested cities. These general points hold true for Srinagar city as well. But, all these conjunctural trends and themes , could be pre-empted. The key would lie in pre-emptive planning based on real forecasts and then a city devised around these. However, having said this, this is Kashmir where planning -whether long or short term- forecasting and so on are precluded by a combination of inertia, politics of patronage, corruption and a generalized structural disincentives – psychological, social and political- to work. All this has a bearing on traffic, its management and congestion thereof in Srinagar city, in particular and Kashmir, in general. The question is: can the issue be remedied or ameliorated? Yes, is the qualified answer but for this to happen, a paradigm shift has to take place and happen. Will this happen? While hope rests eternal in the human heart, this paradigm shift seems like a distant prospect.