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Dilapidated Pantha Chowk road turns into nightmare for commuters

Big potholes damage several vehicles, pose risk of accidents R&B Department sits on repairs of vital road
12:21 AM Apr 22, 2024 IST | HASEEB IBN HAMEED
dilapidated pantha chowk road turns into nightmare for commuters

Srinagar, Apr 21:  It’s afternoon, Nissar Ahmad, a driver is supposed to pick up passengers and earn his living but he is at a welding shop repairing his car’s oil chamber!


“It broke as I drove through these two-feet-deep potholes,” pointing at the battered road near Pantha Chowk, he laments in desperation.


The road, as per locals and officials, was dug by the erstwhile Public Health Department (PHE) to lay some drainage pipes that would flow into Jhelum.


“The pipe was covered in haste, resulting in the road being in dilapidated condition today,” said Nissar.


Since then, the dilapidated road is giving tough times to commuters and local people alike.


Both sides of the road have developed large potholes.

For Sameer Ahmad, a student from Pampore who commutes daily through the road to reach Srinagar, the potholes are much more dangerous than they visibly appear.


“I saw e-rickshaws driving and almost turning turtle due to the big potholes. They could have cost a life,” Sameer says.


Like a plant growing into a tree, Sameer has observed these little potholes growing as large as craters in a year, he says.

“Whenever we reach this spot, we regret commuting, we regret why we even live to see this,” the 22-year-old says.

“I have seen the condition of the road responsible for hindering ambulances as well, what helplessness can be there as grave as that,” asks the student.

While Nissar and Sameer have their own ordeal to tell. For 40-years-old Khurshid Ahmad, a driver by profession for the last three decades, the road is responsible for rupturing his daily earnings.

“Time and again the support rods of our cars keep breaking, just because of this road’s pathetic condition. And I am not only speaking of my own car but those of other drivers as well,” Ahmad says.

He says at least 20 drivers had to repair their vehicles after being damaged due to this road.

Last week, he says, he had to pay Rs 2800 for a new set of support rods and an additional Rs 800 to the mechanic.

His car was damaged at 9:30 am in morning, he reached with sheer difficulties to the mechanic's garage and left it at 5:00 pm. "What work could I have done after that," Ahmad asks, saying not only did he have to spend but also lost one day of work.

“We don’t earn more than Rs 500 a day, and this road is forcing us to spend money we won’t sometimes earn for a week,” lamented Ahmad.

But not only does the dilapidated road impact the lives of drivers by affecting their cars, it does so by resulting in huge traffic jams which makes drivers unable to make the expected rounds of to and from Srinagar.

Drivers like Khurshid Ahmad, who ferry passengers from Pampore to Srinagar and vice versa say, they expect to make at least four rounds per day, “but the dilapidated road results in such a huge jam that we are hardly able to complete two rounds,” they say.

“Then the passengers will blame us for not doing our job. How will we do the job when we don’t have proper roads? It hurts being a driver in Kashmir,” says Ahmad as he sobs.

It should not take more than 30 minutes to cover a distance of mere 15 kilometres, but here, it takes more than an hour, say drivers.

While the drivers and locals say that the road has been in this condition for over a year, Chief Engineer Roads and Buildings says “No, not for a year.”

Chief Engineer R&B Kashmir, Sajad Naqeeb, while accepting that there are a couple of big potholes on the road, said that he “extensively travels along the road.”

They would be repaired in two to three days, Naqeeb said. Asked why no action was taken for a year, Naqeeb said the potholes have not been there for a year.

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