Traffic jams, especially at junctions, have returned with the complete lifting of covid-19 restrictions on vehicular movement. The roads were almost deserted for the many days followed by limited resumption when only those with valid passes issued by the administration were allowed. Nowadays the roads are bustling with traffic from morning to evening. However, the complete resumption has started to bring out old problems to fore regarding the traffic congestion.
Jammu and Kashmir over the years has witnessed a rapid growth in the number of motor vehicles. The furious pace of motorisation has led to severe traffic congestion besides air pollution, adversely impacting the people on various counts. Policies to deal with these problems have had an impact but not the lasting one. The congestion is far from gone and pollution levels have also started getting worse especially in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.
While it is always advisable to look at the policies of the past which have gone wrong but it is imperative to understand what needs to be done to correct the situation.
Clearly, the covid-19 times have led to more and more people who can afford cars and motorbikes to use them. While public transport, in absence of strict regulations as regards overcrowding, cannot offer people conveniences, the commuting choices had to shift. However, it has led more vehicles on the road. As a consequence, it comes with a problem as one has to drive on crowded streets and struggle to find parking at crowded destinations. It is here the policymakers have to intervene and address the problem. Prior to the arrival of covid-19 on the scene, Inspector General of Police, Traffic, J&K, had pointed out parking spaces in places where hindrance or inconvenience is caused to the general public as well as commuters in the city on account of indiscriminate parking of vehicles. The IGP Traffic had also called for imperative need for designation of proper parking places.
It is time to hasten the process so that the locations for more roadside parking are identified by the authorities. The parking spaces already identified occupied need to be vacated.
It is also time to modify regulation connected with the perennial problem. There is also a need to consider embracing technology-based services to address the issues to ease the congestion and air quality challenges.