Easy come, easy go
The narrowing of roads under the Srinagar Smart City Project, for making space for a uniform carriage way, is drawing a lot of flak. But beyond all the debate, what we really need is a civilised way of commuting.
THE Srinagar Smart City Project has been attracting a lot of flak lately for narrowing the
roads in the Srinagar city. There have been allegations that narrowing of roads in the name of uniform carriage way would only create problems for the commuters and would lead to huge traffic jams. There is a hue and cry against narrowing of the roads in Srinagar city under Smart City Program and journalists, civil society members and many other sections of the society, including politicians, have upped their ante against the narrowing of roads. Some are even levelling serious charges of corruption against the nodal agency for the Smart City Project – the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) – for indulging in rampant corruption in the name of face-lifting and modernisation of the Srinagar city. However, the
biggest stakeholder, the shopkeepers and business centres are more than happy over the
decision of widening the footpaths in the Srinagar city. According to them, the widening of footpaths would certainly address the issue of overcrowding and provide sufficient space for the shopper for shopping besides addressing the issue of over- shadowing of the business centres due to conjunction.
The officials of the Smart City, on the other hand, justify the narrowing of roads and simultaneously widening the footpaths, arguing that the guidelines provided by the IRC have been adapted while designing the carriage way. They say uniform width of the carriage way helps in smooth traffic flow whereas the existing non- uniformity only leads to bottlenecks and thus jamming. They put forth a strong argument that the pedestrians have the right to have a uniform pedestal for safe and smooth walking. The officials argue that the Constitution provides for equal rights and opportunities and they are only
replicating the models of the advanced cities where pedestrians are respected more than those driving luxurious cars. We have to take care of both the pedestrians and the commuters alike. It is observed that while planning, space left after making the carriage way uniform, is being utilised for making continuous and low-height footpaths as per universal standards of barrier-free-space. Proper footpaths with ramps & tactile tiles are being used for especially disabled people in accordance with the urban road designing with proper bollards wherever required. It has been noticed that people used to park their cars, bicycles, carts wherever they would find space on the roads which has been the major cause of traffic jamming and pedestal conjunction. Under the Smart City Project, proper road side parking is being made available which would certainly do away with the culture of parking vehicles on roads. On important junctions, proper zebra crossing is being provided and junctions are being improved, with correct geometry taken into consideration. However, the legitimate concern of the people about narrowing down the carriage way space cannot be simply overlooked given the congestion of the traffic in Srinagar city and violation of traffic rules by the commuters. Much depends on how the awareness for a civilised way of commuting is created.