It will take another three months to have Srinagar's buzzing traffic back on streets as more than 1.5 lakh vehicles, from SUVs to sedans to smaller cars, remain grounded due to flood water that hit the city on September 7, leaving around 80 dead and 6.5 lakh population stranded in the valley.
Srinagar's leading K.C. Hyundai's bodyshop is overwhelmed by defunct cars that remained under water for weeks together. "It takes us advance notice of a week to lift cars from locations, spread over the stretch 10 km right and left of Jehlum river in the city. It's is a massive task," said Junaiz Azim, an evaluator with an insurance companies.
The companies have told customers to check after one month about the cars as numbers keep increasing.
The insurance companies are also grappling with the cases, which will run into crores of rupees.
A long stretch of the city's posh colonies of Gogji Bagh, Rajbagh, Bemina, Qamarwari have rows of muddy and stranded cars lined up on the roadside. Several cars have floated metres away from their houses due the rush of flood water, several banged into low-lying ditches, dozens under debris with roads caving in too.
At Srinagar's Convent School area, a jogger park gives a look of car junkyard as gushing waters have smashed cars and sailed them inside it. "All the four wheels are jammed. Handbrakes does function," said M Yousuf, a resident of Wazir Bagh.
Several residents of Rajbagh, who continue to live submerged areas, complaint of missing cars. "Last time we saw our car parked outside the gate was on September 7. It is not at its spot," said Manzoor Khan, a businessman.
These muddy and dented cars have given Srinagar a war-like look to the city With clouds of dust emerging from slush and slit now, with sun shining bright. Drivers are warned to drive in flooded areas with masks on to avoid air-borne diseases.
Dozens of police cars also remain defunct. "We have hired private vehicles for policing," admitted a senior police officer on the condition of anonymity.
The car company, Maruti, has already warned the drivers against starting cars, fearing damage to engine.
"The oil may have got mixed with water. Starting cars may inflict more damage," said Arif Ahmad, an automobile engineer.
However, there is a positive spin off for private contractors with cranes and lifters. "I was charged with 3,000 rupees to shift my car to nearby car mechanic," said Bablu Jan.
According to official figures, the city has more than 4.5 lakh registered vehicles. On a day, the city would regulate traffic of around two lakh vehicles. Insurance companies stare at 1.5 lakh cars stranded, requiring attention.
Sixty percent Srinagar was submerged by the floods.