As snow blankets Kashmir, administration draws flak for slow response
The administration in Kashmir on Wednesday came under fire from Srinagar residents who accused them of incompetence in clearing roads and restoring normal power supply amid heavy snowfall since Sunday.
People in summer capital Srinagar were aghast as the main roads were not cleared properly even after three days. Main roads and link roads in many areas of Srinagar were still under snow causing problems in commute even for emergency purposes.
The roads leading to tertiary care hospitals like Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital in Old City and Sheri Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) at Soura on the city’s outskirts were still dangerous for driving.
“The roads at Karan Nagar are still covered with snow. There is a lot of water. The vehicles were still slipping there causing traffic jams. This is the state of our emergency road which leads to SMHS hospital. The officials are saying many things on Twitter but on the ground, the situation is pathetic,” said Faisal Ahmad, a resident of Karan Nagar.
“Roads leading to SMHS hospital like Chattabal, Zampa Kadal etc are not cleared of snow. I am a doctor and can’t even think of taking my vehicle out in case of any emergency. I wonder what they are doing on ground although they seem quite busy on Twitter,” said Mohammad Shahid.
Patients going to SKIMS pointed out that snow-covered roads were causing huge problems in reaching the hospital.
“We have cleared the snow inside the institute and on its foot paths and the road approaching to the institute from 90-feet side is cleared of snow. However, there is snow in the Soura chowk. The road from Old City side is being cleared,” said medical superintendent SKIMS, Dr Farooq Jan.
The main roads of the old city are full of slush and water. “For the past three days this Nowpora-Khanyar road has not been cleared. Today afternoon they came with a machine but it was a half-hearted effort. The snow is still on the road there. It is the first time I am seeing the administration very lackadaisical in its approach,” said Mohammad Ashiq, an autorickshaw driver in Khanyar.
“I have not been able to move out my auto these days because of the blocked road,” he said.
The Srinagar administration on Tuesday had asked residents to avoid unnecessary travel. But despite very little transport on roads, the people said that the snow clearance efforts of the Mechanical Engineering Department(MED) and Srinagar Municipal Corporation(SMC) were not up to the mark.
The city center Lal Chowk, which is the business hub of Srinagar, was covered with snow on Wednesday morning.
“Normally the city centre would be cleared within hours but this is the first time I have seen Lal Chowk blocked for three days. Yesterday main Residency Road was completely closed. Today they came with a machine like a tractor but it was not effective. It only cleared the paths, not the huge road of Lal Chowk,” said Sakib Altaf, a resident of Lal Chowk.
“Even the power situation is not what should be in an important area like Lal Chowk. It is erratic,” he said.
Srinagar district administration in a tweet assured that they were on their toes. “This is to assure our residents that our entire administration is on its toes in efforts to clear the snow and restore the affected services. With unrelenting snowfall this has been an unprecedented situation. Please continue to cooperate with us — we so appreciate it. Thanks,” it said.
SMC mayor Junaid Matto also took to Twitter to say that they have to only clear interior lanes. “SMC doesn’t clear main roads. SMC does interior lanes and by-lanes. Main roads are done by MED and R&B,” he said.
“I have asked for four zonal control rooms to be set up immediately for snow-clearance of lanes and by-lanes by SMC. Roads not in our jurisdiction. All four control rooms to be led by senior officers. We won’t stop till we clear all lanes,” he said.
Calls to MED landline number which the Srinagar administration has issued on social media to contact in case of assistance during snowfall yielded no response.