In absence of plans to widen old NH
Anantnag: The traffic congestion on National Highway-1A, now known as the old national highway, continues to be ever-increasing even after the NH-44 was thrown open a few years back – leaving some major towns of Kashmir valley an absolute nightmare to drive through.
The old national highway runs through almost all major towns of Kashmir valley, including Bijbehara, Awantipora, Pampore, Panthachowk, and others. These towns were bypassed when the NH-44 was being constructed and with the new highway getting functional, it was believed that the old one will get decongested.
On the contrary, the old highway has become all the more congested in the past few years. As a result, these major towns are facing frequent and massive traffic jams almost every day.
“The administration, after throwing open the new highway, has almost forgotten about the existing one. It is high time that the old highway is widened and some relief brought to the general public,” several people that Kashmir Reader talked to said.
The people maintain that if not the whole stretch, at least the bottlenecks in the main town should be taken care of. “The stretches passing through the towns can be widened, at least, to bring some sort of end to the chaotic traffic situation in these towns,” a shopkeeper in Bijbehara told Kashmir Reader.
While widening remains the prime concern, some smaller issues are adding to the problem and making the situation even dire. One is the lack of parking in these towns located along the old National Highway.
“Every day hundreds of cars remain parked on both sides of NH-1A, particularly amidst these busy towns. And obviously, it adds to the traffic chaos,” a local in Awantipora told Kashmir Reader.
This haphazard and mindless parking, forced by lack of parking spaces, further squeezes these bottlenecks and makes the situation worse. Apart from that, the lack of maintenance along these stretches is also hurting the general public.
“Yes, these stretches were macadamized recently, but they have been damaged by the snow and have not been mend,” the locals said, adding that at many places garbage is being dumped along the old National Highway, greeting commuters with a foul smell.
This aspect is particularly worrying given the fact that most of the tourists visiting Pahalgam and other places in south Kashmir prefer this route over the new NH-44.