Srinagar: Apart from natural causes, mismanagement and miscommunication between officials in Kashmir and their counterparts in Jammu have added to the chaos the national highway is presently in, passengers say.
They said that the traffic schedule issued by the administration – to inform people about the movement of vehicles to and fro on the highway, and the time limits thereof – is followed blindly; the situation on the ground has no effect on the decision already made in this regard.
According to passengers, traffic from Jammu or Srinagar is given the green signal exactly at the time mentioned in the schedule, without keeping in view the status of the traffic coming from the opposite direction.
This rigid plan and non-flexible timings have not only added to the chaos on the highway but actually caused it.
“Until and unless the traffic from one side makes it through, officials should not allow the traffic from the other side to move. Even if they have to make changes in the time schedule, so be it. They cannot blindly follow the schedule which is prepared a day ahead. You have to keep in mind the exact situation and then make a decision,” said a group of passengers.
They said that traffic congestion causes jams where the roads are quite narrow, often due to landslides, where only one vehicle can pass at a time.
SSP Traffic, Ramban, Sanjeev Khajurie told Kashmir Reader that landslides and shooting stones occur of a sudden, blocking the traffic till the debris is cleared. This is the main reason jams happen, he said.
“Due to the landslides, movement of traffic is already very slow; vehicles that cross an area within 5 minutes take almost 30 minutes to do so. And in the landslide area we have to stop the traffic,” he said.
When asked why, then, allow traffic from Srinagar, he replied, “Today from 1 pm, traffic movement was scheduled from Srinagar to Jammu. The Srinagar authority allowed traffic towards Jammu but suddenly landslides happened. What can we do? We cannot stop the vehicles now. Fresh traffic from Srinagar was not allowed from Lower Munda and Qazigund till further orders.”
He further said that on Tuesday (today), four landslides happened in different parts of the national highway, including at Panthiyal near Makarkoot area of Ramban district, and at Anokhi Falls.
As per eyewitnesses, on Monday hundreds of travellers, which included children and women, were stranded on the highway the entire night because a military convoy was allowed to move from Jammu to Srinagar instead of light motor vehicles.
The administration, meanwhile, has failed to even reach out to the stranded passengers who are spending nights under open sky.
“Why did they not stop the convoy when only light motor vehicles were allowed to ply?” passengers questioned.
Talking about this issue, SSP Traffic Ramban said that the administration and the traffic department was providing all facilities to the stranded passengers. “Maybe there are somewhere those who didn’t receive the facilities,” he said.