Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, June 14, 2010

When Will Srinagar Get Traffic Lights?

A better question may be, "When will Kashmiris mature to realize that life consists of accomodating others making their journey on an intersecting, but different, road?

Traffic Deptt, R&B Pass The Buck

Faheem Aslam (Greater Kashmir)

Srinagar: Notwithstanding traffic mismanagement, rising road accidents and mounting vehicular population, Jammu and Kashmir is yet to switch over to electronic traffic signals which, according to experts, can go a long way in effectively manning the traffic and minimizing accidents.

According to observers, traffic in the twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu was effectively regulated by the electronic traffic signals nearly four decades back. But today, the system is non-existent indicating the level of “retreat” in the traffic sector. Today only the remnants of traffic signals are seen in parts of Srinagar and Jammu cities.

“Traffic signals have been installed across the world. It is an effective system which can help us regulate the traffic effectively in Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the twin cities of Srinagar and Jammu,” said the former Inspector General of Police (Traffic), Muhammad Amin Shah.

Sources in the Traffic Department said they many a time mooted proposals to the Roads and Buildings Department, asking them to get the traffic signals installed at several road intersections identified by the department in Srinagar and Jammu. But the proposals, they said, were gathering dust as nobody was serious in having the signals installed.

Sources said a company which deals with installation of traffic signals had told the Traffic Department that it would install them free of cost, provided it was given the advertisement rights. “The company wanted to install its advertisements near the traffic signal spots. But the bureaucracy-bug ate the proposal,” they said.

Interestingly, the Traffic Department has called for an immediate installation of the electronic traffic signal in the state for effective traffic management. “The traffic police feels handicapped to effectively regulate traffic in the two cities, especially at the road intersections.

It has been observed, both at national and international level, that the effective mechanism to regulate traffic on the intersections is done by electronic traffic signals. The installation of traffic signals on the road intersections ensures, besides the volume and speed control, the saving of manpower, which ultimately leads to efficient regulation and effective safety on road intersections,” writes MA Shah in the Traffic Info 2010, the Department’s annual publication.

It adds: “Based on this principle, the whole world has switched over completely to electronic traffic regulation. Thus installing traffic signals in Jammu and Kashmir is a necessity to improve the traffic management on its roads.”

The department has conducted a survey of cities of Srinagar and Jammu, identifying 67 and 55 road intersections respectively, which require electronic signals for smooth traffic regulations. But the exercise has not yielded any concrete results, as proposals with regard to traffic regulation have allegedly been shelved by the PWD.

A senior traffic police official said it would not take more than Rs 10 crores to get the electronic traffic system installed in the two cities. “But the question is who will bell the cat? The project has become a victim of petty politics between the R&B, Traffic Department and parties that intend to install the system,” the official, pleading anonymity, said. “We had this system. But that time it was perhaps discarded because there was no power back up to the traffic lights. Today we have the power and we can install the system easily. You can see a quantum decrease in road accidents.”

When contacted, the Minister of State for R&B, Javed Ahmad Dar, said he was yet to see a proposal from the Traffic Department regarding the traffic signal installation. “We will install it. But the proposal has to come from the traffic department. And then we have to see its funding aspect also. Who’ll fund it? I think the traffic police have money to spend on the project. We can act as an executing agency,” he told Greater Kashmir

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