Smart city and traffic management

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The other day the Srinagar Smart City Limited in collaboration with the State Legal Services Authority organised a community engagement awareness programme for better traffic management in Srinagar city. The officials said that the aim of the workshop was to reach out to the general public of the district and stress the need for awareness of rules and laws for better traffic management in the capital city of Srinagar and the ways to achieve that. It was also to bring the public up to date with the recently amended traffic laws and consequences of violations thereof. Those present discussed and shared opinions about how traffic in Srinagar city can be better managed to enable unobstructed and smooth movement thereof.

It goes without saying that Srinagar is one of the worst cities when it comes to traffic management. Actually one of the major problems plaguing traffic management in the Valley is that the concerned government agencies have never really bothered to have what is known as prospective planning. While the number of motor vehicles has exponentially multiplied over the years, the road spaces have remained more or less static, and their condition only deteriorating with each passing day. Similarly, while the government remained busy in earning more and more money by way of registration fees and road tax from new and old vehicles, no amount of this revenue or for that matter creative intellectual input was invested in engineering good roads and arranging parking spaces. And today, the situation has reached a point where the city seems to be bursting due to share size of vehicular traffic.

Making matters worse is the corruption in various agencies – SMC, Traffic Police and even the territorial police. All these agencies realize a constant stream of sleazy money (‘Hafta’) from roadside vendors, commercial transporters and others, and in turn allow them a free run to use roads and streets, footpaths and sidewalks as if it were their personal estates! Unless and until all these different agencies are tamed and made accountable for their mandated jobs, the measures like selectively slapping fines on the wrongly parked vehicles will remain only cosmetic ones without yielding any worthwhile results.

In the above mentioned workshop, the authorities claimed that the district administration has initiated efforts to regulate the movement of public transport In Srinagar as per a strict schedule of route plan and stops the aim being to achieve the desired management of traffic in the district particularly in the Srinagar city. They further informed about some key initiatives of smart city like road redevelopment, intelligent traffic light system, signage and street furniture, drainage, underground ducting among others and informed that a host of projects aimed at improving the traffic scenario in the district include pedestrian pathways project worth Rs 26 crore and junction improvement project worth Rs 12 crore adding that other projects like underground ducting are also under discussion or process.

There is too much talk about Srinagar being developed as a smart city. However, this talk will remain mere talk unless a system is put in place that takes care of each and every aspect that impacts the lives of city dwellers. Traffic management being one of such aspects. If traffic is not managed in an efficient way, it creates problems for everyone – from patients rushing to hospitals to students on way to schools – from government employees who need to be in their respective offices well in time, to daily workers whose every minute wasted in traffic is money wasted. One can just hope that what was claimed in the workshop doesn’t remain within the four walls of seminar room but is implemented on the ground effectively.

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