Kashmir's first traffic light triggers a jam
For the rest of the country it might be a routine roadside feature, but in once violence-mired and stone throwers usurped street of Srinagar's Karan Nagar area, the newly installed traffic lights, twinkling green, red and yellow, is a major attraction for the city's 14 lakh dwellers.chandigarh Updated: May 04, 2012 11:10 IST
For the rest of the country it might be a routine roadside feature, but in once violence-mired and stone throwers usurped street of Srinagar's Karan Nagar area, the newly installed traffic lights, twinkling green, red and yellow, is a major attraction for the city's 14 lakh dwellers.
The first traffic light in entire Kashmir valley, installed by a British company on trial basis on Wednesday evening, resulted in traffic jams in Srinagar and heightened security as old city dwellers rushed to have first 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 of tech age, Kashmir remains in primitive mode of life for lack of traffic lights," said Ghulam Muhammad (55), an onlooker. Installation of the British traffic light was not easy. "It's been maddening since yesterday. People either halt 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.
The first traffic light even sparked jokes on social networking sites with netizens from Kashmir asking the tourism department to take tickets from onlookers as "dekho". The lights, however, have added a dash of spark to otherwise dull evenings of conflict-ridden state, where life used to stop by sunset.
"In next few days, five more spots in Srinagar city will get these lights," said Srinagar superintendent of police traffic Haseeb-u-Rehman.
In a phased manner, the city is set to get traffic lights at 35 spots, including, what the police call, in chronic areas where traffic mess is a norm these days. "The project will be completed in 90 days," said the police officer.
The police do not expect quick redress to traffic mess though. "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 won't need stricter guidance," said deputy inspector general traffic Shafkat Watali.
Traffic lights are nothing new to the city. It was in 1960s, Kashmir's former prime minister Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad installed traffic lights in Srinagar only to become defunct in a couple of years.