Where is the space for us to walk down the distance…???
Srinagar city and its adjoining areas face most of the disastrous vehicular exploitation leaving very less space for common-man to have benefit of a niche. Almost every day traffic accidents consume lives of innocent pedestrians who otherwise were supposed to have first and exclusive right on the road. With encroached footpaths and in the absence of required subways, pedestrian overpasses and footbridges every road and street in Srinagar is a virtual death trap for walkers. Encroachment on footpaths by shopkeepers and vendors; erection of security bunkers and restrictions by security agencies on footpaths are the major hurdles in movement of pedestrians that ultimately effect the smooth vehicular traffic and jeopardising the life of people on the road. The most pathetic sight of chaotic traffic and misery of pedestrian are evident in Batmaloo and its neighborhood. Particularly, Batmaloo bus stand and the main road in its vicinity connecting northern parts with the city centre, on one hand present a confused scene of exploitation and highhandedness on part of vendors who are most of the time hand in glove with civic and law enforcing agencies and on the other hand depict the desperation of people walking on road. In Batamalo transport hub—laboratory of exploitation, corruption, confusion and desperation the real face of our ill conceived development and suffering of common man can not only be seen but experienced with a pinch of pain. Situation at Budshah chowk is no less painful and jeopardizing for pedestrians. Crossing the road at this historic crossroad is a herculean task that too when a majority of arrogant and egoistic motorists are on the wheels. Most experienced and knowledgeable pedestrians find it difficult to cross the road at this junction leave alone the children, elderly and infirm.
Other than the messy traffic, lack of infrastructure, egocentric shopkeepers and vendors’ indifferent administration and flawed rules are equally responsible for hopeless destiny of people walking on roads. Encroachment of footpath on Amira Kadal Bridge is a glaring example of unresponsive administration where vendors, fish and vegetable sellers have hijacked the Bridge under the watchful eyes of law enforcing agencies. Most of the time pedestrians are compelled to walk in the road solely meant for vehicular traffic, leading to frequent traffic jams and risking the life of pedestrians. There can be only two options of this ‘free-for-all’, either inefficiency or complaisance against bribe. Just after crossing Amira Kadal Bridge the situation in Hari Singh high street area up to Jahangir Chowk is worst. Where extended shops with merchandise displayed on walkway and vendors occupying half of the main road leave no space for pedestrians. This shameless violation goes on throughout the year not under the nose but under the supervision of cops and a fleet of flying squad of civic authorities.
Walking has always been the main way of human movement since ages, so by all means pedestrians have the first right on road, but unfortunately the mad love for unplanned and disorderly development has made us callous towards the right of pedestrians. It is high time to address this menacing situation of deprivation, despair and jeopardy at an earliest. For this noble cause administration has to come out of corrupt and slumbering mindset to enforce the existing laws in letter and spirit. Equally, the society has to play its vital role in empowering the common-man particularly the pedestrians to facilitate their safe and comfortable journey on each and every road and lane of Kashmir.