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Kashmir's first traffic signal triggers jam

india Updated: May 03, 2012 20:04 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

For rest of the country it might be a routine feature on the roads, but in once violence-mired street of Srinagar's Karan Nagar area, the newly installed traffic lights is a major attraction for the city's 14 lakh dwellers.

The first traffic signal in the entire Kashmir valley, installed by a British company on trial basis on Wednesday evening, resulted in traffic jams and security was heightened as old city dwellers rushed to have a glimpse of the traffic regulator.

"You might see iPads, mobiles and hi-tech gadgets in every hand in Kashmir but unfortunately even in the 21st century, Kashmir remains in the primitive mode of life," said Ghulam Muhammad (55), an onlooker.

It has not been easy for the traffic cops after the installation of the traffic light.

"It's maddening since yesterday. People either stop their vehicles to gaze at the changing lights or stop by to pester us with questions about its functioning," said a traffic cop on the condition of anonymity.

It even sparked jokes on social networking sites with netizens from Kashmir asking the tourism department to charge the onlookers for a dekko.

The lights, however, have added a dash of spark to the otherwise dull evenings of the conflict-ridden state, where life comes to a halt after sunset.

The city is set to get the traffic signals in a phased manner at 35 points, including, what the police call, at areas where traffic mess is a norm these days.

"In the next few days, five more spots in Srinagar city will get these lights," said Srinagar superintendent of police, traffic, Haseeb-u-Rehman.

"The project will be completed in 90 days," said the police officer.

The police do not expect a quick redressal of the traffic condition anytime soon.

"We have been living with primitive mode of traffic regulation. So it will take time for people to adjust with the lights. We hope that they will obey and need no lathi of cops now," said deputy inspector general, traffic, Shafkat Watali.

Traffic lights are nothing new to the city. It was in 1960s, Kashmir's then prime minister Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad installed traffic signals in Srinagar which became defunct after a couple of years.

After fifty years, chief minister Omar Abdullah's government may finally switch on the essential traffic regulator this month when he shifts his capital to Srinagar on May 8.

It has become a pressing need in Srinagar with 1.33 lakh registered vehicles in the city leading to regular traffic snarls.

"We are going to install Electronic Traffic Signal System of latest technology available in the market on 35 intersections in the city," said Onnyx Electronics' CEO Jitendra Kaushik.

The traffic signals will be operated by the microprocessor-based controller. The controller system will work on fixed time-stand alone mode.