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Narrow roads in Downtown lead to persistent traffic jams

Authorities sit on road widening plans
12:00 AM Feb 12, 2024 IST | MUKEET AKMALI
narrow roads in downtown lead to persistent traffic jams
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The three main roads- Khanyar-Zadibal-Pandach road, Syed Meerak Shah road (SMS) and Circular Road Project that were identified for urgent widening to develop the future flow of traffic remain cramped, narrow thoroughfares – despite plans for their expansion being envisioned decades back.

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The Khanyar-Zadibal-Pandach (KZP) road, a crucial 12.5 km artery snaking through Downtown, lies at the heart of a long-standing infrastructure dilemma.

Initially conceived as part of the Circular Road project nearly half a century ago in 1976, the project aimed to construct a four-lane ring road encircling the summer capital.

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However, progress has been sluggish, with only 102 out of 368 structure cases settled and a mere 19.50 out of 118.19 kanals of land acquired.

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"This delay has led to cost escalation, with over 200 structures and 600 shops slated for dismantlement, demanding an estimated Rs 1000 crore for land acquisition alone. The soaring real estate prices in Srinagar, particularly in Downtown, have exacerbated the challenge, transforming the project into a financial behemoth the government struggles to fund."

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The KZP road, vital for alleviating traffic congestion in Downtown, has become a victim of systemic mismanagement and neglect over the years. Passing through landmarks like the historic Jamia Masjid and terminating at Pandach on the city outskirts, the project's significance is undeniable. Yet, it languishes in limbo, much like the Syed Meerak Shah (SMS) road expansion, a 10.30 km stretch envisioned to ease traffic snarls from Dalgate to Zakura via Rainawari and Hazratbal.

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Since its inception in 2009, the SMS road project, initially estimated at Rs 336.24 crore, has progressed at a glacial pace. Out of 332 structures identified for acquisition, only 179 have been settled, while a mere 28.77 out of 145 kanals of land have been acquired. Similarly, out of 750 shops, only 302 have been acquired.

Officials informed that for the Circular Road project, out of a total 1,238 structures that need to be acquired, 802 cases have been settled so far. In terms of land acquisition, out of 242.5 kanals of land required, 150 kanals have been acquired as of now. Furthermore, out of 824 shops coming in the way of the project, settlement has been completed for 339 shops up till now.

Amidst these challenges, senior Roads and Buildings (R&B) officials lament the lack of earmarked funds for property acquisition, warning that without proper allocation, future generations may face another five decades of stalled progress. "As these infrastructural projects remain mired in bureaucratic quagmires and financial constraints, the prospect of relief from traffic woes in Srinagar dims with each passing year."

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