Traffic Mess

Traffic Mess
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Traffic conditions in Kashmir are in a mess. The reasons, to employ the jargon of economics, pertain to both the demand and the supply side and the increased purchasing power of many people in the region , complemented by rather easy availability of consumer finance. The latter reasons have created a demand for private vehicles and thereby led to a plethora of these vehicles on the streets and roads of the valley. But, the infrastructure, which remains the same, is unable to cope with the increase in vehicular traffic. The poor absorptive capacity of extant infrastructure creates stresses and strains on it. The result is our spaces get more and more cramped and squeezed. In terms of the supply side, shoddy practices like disbursal and granting of licenses without vigorous and stringent testing requirements lead to conditions where many or even most users and drivers of vehicles brazenly flout rules and regulations. All these factors, cumulatively, create the traffic mess that is observed across the length and breadth of Kashmir, especially Srinagar city. The condition is so bad that driving through the city is not only a headache but also the pedestrian commute is difficult. Overlaying factors identified here is the usurpation of urban spaces like pavements, streets and parking spots, by some people. The powers that be in the administration do not display the seriousness to declutter and clear these spaces. The traffic mess in Kashmir is bound to aggravate with the passage of time as more people own their vehicles and prefer to use these over public transport. Given this, the question is: is there a solution to this mess ? If there, what could be its nature? People cannot be stopped from buying cars. But, what can possibly be done is to tweak the entire supply chain of traffic and make it more efficient and streamlined. Licenses, for instance, must only be given after passing vigorous driving tests, both theoretical and practical. Traffic movement across Kashmir must be strictly monitored and hefty fines imposed if rules are flouted. While an exhaustive list cannot be delineated here for obvious reasons, but last but not the least, an efficient, effective and multinodal transport system must be devised and made functional across Kashmir. This system which can be run by private players but be accountable to both the people and the administration can be partly subsidized so that it caters to all segments of the population. If the measures outlined here are not adhered to and the traffic conditions in Kashmir not improved, the time is not far when driving and commuting in Kashmir will be a harrowing experience.