Srinagar: Traffic is a mess which people in most parts of the world see. However, people also see solutions to it.
In Kashmir, the government also had a solution in mind, Flyovers!
That is actually a good and a practical answer to the problem. One such flyover which is ‘under construction’ since 2013 is the Rambagh-Jehangir Chowk flyover.
How many deadlines it has missed; has become irrelevant now. When will it be ready; is also almost irrelevant. What is relevant here is that the diversion which has been created, to ensure its ‘smooth’ construction and avoid accidents, has changed lives.
And the change is not good at all.
“Due to this mess, I had to change my doctor. I had to get admitted at the Florence Hospital as it was nearer to my home,” says Zeenat.
In 2015, Zeenat was expecting her first baby. The doctor she was under observation of, used to check patients at Modern Hospital, Rajbagh.
The under construction ‘convenience’ forced her to change the doctor of her preference.
Since then, Zeenat became a mother once more. The fly-over is, as it was. Even her first child, who is literally a toddler, also knows that something is ‘wrong’ with the way.
“Now my first baby also understands that there is something wrong with the way. While going back home he complains of dust irritation and the ‘inconvenience’ caused by the diversion,” Zeenat adds.
Mubeena is a mother too. She lives in the Aalloucha Bagh area of the city. Her area, which is a residential one, has become mini-highway of sorts, due to the diversion.
Now, her day starts and ends with cleaning her house, and the running nose of her child. Moreover, her cleaning budget has sky-rocketed.
“This is getting uglier day by day and my cleaning expenses are touching the skies,” she screams out loud.
The lanes of residential areas in Kashmir are narrow enough for private cars, but these alleys have turned out to be very accommodating. Not only small cars, but buses also have been taken in by these roads, lanes and by-lanes.
Sabreena, a Human Resource professional, works in the Jehangir Chowk area of Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of the city. She lives in Nowgam area and ideally, to reach her office, it should take her 15 to 20 minutes. But due to the diversion, Sabreena spends more than an hour in a Sumo cab, cramped with people.
“My mornings are not normal now. Every day, I have to rush in order to reach the office on time. I am forced to leave early,” she says.
“I have to leave early in the morning and while coming back home, I have to go around the whole city,” says Sabreena.
Like Sabreena, Zeenat Tanvir and Adil, all young professionals who have to travel to Jahangir Chowk on a daily basis complain of the extra time they have to spend in covering a 20-minute journey.
For Suarib, going to school since all these ‘diverted’ years has become a mission. On his way, from home to school, falls the concrete mess from Rambagh to Jehangir Chowk, which has been piling up since 2013.
Just like any other teenager, the first thing he picks up is his earphones along with his android phone and then his backpack. Now he feels that he is all set to cover the journey of fifteen minutes in forty five minutes.
Catching a bus early in the morning is another task.
Finally after getting into one, he turns on his music. He mentions how difficult this morning journey gets without his music. The bus is about to reach the bridge that would take some time to connect the commuters to the area ahead of it.
Suarib says this is where the actual test of his patience begins. The plugged in android phone has a feature of changing songs if slightly shaken and his whole playlist gets shuffled while he crosses the flyover’s construction site.
“It’s been so long now I have been travelling like this every day. Going to school has become like a mission, the waiting, getting stuck in the traffic and above all the pollution and dust that gets into my throat every single time,” Suarib says and points out that they are some of the problems which he, like other passengers, faces on a daily basis.
For the kid, the worst part is that the diversion changes as frequently as the playlist on his phone.
“The worst part is the diversion that keeps changing just like the songs on my phone from that wobbly ride. One day it’s the Jawahar Nagar route, the next day you have to go through the area of Solina and then you ought to take the internal roads of Barzula,” he adds.
Another commuter Adil, brings into attention the plight of shopkeepers in the Solina market and in the vicinity of the Rambagh area.
Adil tells how the market witnesses no shoppers and how the making of the flyover will eventually bring an end to their livelihoods.
“Nobody is realizing it but the shopkeepers there are going towards an end of their sustenance and not to mention the pollution and chaos, and the medical bills of the residents are going up day by day,” Adil says.
However on the other hand, Public Works Minister Nayeem Akthar had earlier said that the space beneath the flyover would be turned into a vibrant market.
It’s not just the human population which is affected but the immovable properties too, in the areas, which fall under the diversion.
“The houses are always full of dust; there is commotion all the time in our area which is supposed to be quiet as it is a residential area. Almost everyone has some heath problem due to the dust,” said a resident of Jawahar Nagar.