STATE TIMES NEWSJAMMU: A Division Bench (DB) of J&K High Court comprising Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur issued directions to resolve mismanagement of traffic in J&K. The court gave aforesaid directions while hearing the proceedings of a petition filed on the subject. The DB observed that in terms of order dated December 18, 2019, while adjudicating upon the matter, this Court had desired to devise a mechanism to effectively address the issues concerning the traffic management in the Jammu and Kashmir and with such idea the court had decided to take up the issues in phased manner and the three issues those were desired to be dealt with in the first instance were highlighted in the order. With regard to public and private parking of the vehicles, DB observed that the court in terms of order dated December 18, 2019, had directed the Government of Jammu and Kashmir to ensure placing before it the policy by amending the existing norms with respect to registration of vehicles (both public and private) by incorporating a condition in the Registration Norms to the effect that the owner of the vehicle seeking registration has a parking space/ garage space at his residence. “The Government shall also come up with a policy of banning the use of roads, be it National Highway, State Highway, City Roads, etc, for parking purposes. Awaiting the decision of the Government on notifying the policy on the above lines, it shall be the responsibility of the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, to ensure that all the roads, as taken note of in the preceding paragraph, are made free from parking. He shall also ensure that no vehicle is allowed to be parked on roadside even at the points designated by the SMC or SDA”. DB also directed the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, shall ensure that the vehicles are parked at the designated off-road parking slots with particular reference to the Lal Chowk, and surrounding areas. DB observed that compliance report stands filed by the Principal Secretary to the Government, Transport Department, J&K; Transport Commissioner, J&K, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and the Superintendent of Police Traffic City Srinagar. “Perusal of the compliance report filed by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, reveals that the officer has suggested certain measures required to be taken towards implementation of the court directions. The compliance report has categorized the parking sites/ places in three categories, (A), Existing parking sites/ places; (B) Development of new parking slots and (C) On-road parking at designated sites. In category A, the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir has given the details of the six existing parking sites/ places out of which four are suggested to be designated as parking slots at the rate of Rs. 20 per hour and two are required to be designated as day parking slots at the rate of Rs 20 and 30 per day. Similarly, in category B, 28 sites are reflected to be developed as new parking slots and in category C, 16 places are sought to be utilized as On-road parking slots”, the court observed adding that the compliance report submitted by the Principal Secretary to the Government, J&K, wherein the officer has spoken of the role of the Transport Commissioner, J&K and the District Magistrates concerned on the issue, shall be responded to by the Amicus Curiae. “District Magistrate, Srinagar, shall also file his response in light of the averments taken in the compliance report submitted by the Principal Secretary to Government, Transport Department, vis-a-vis the steps taken by him for determining by order the parking places for Motor Vehicles under section 117 of Motor Vehicles Act, 1988”, the court observed. “The category A of the compliance report in respect of existing parking sites/ places, for their re-designation as hourly and day parking slots may be continued by ensuring that the parking charges are enhanced and regulated after following the codal formalities. The 28 sites identified in category B of the compliance report for their development as new parking slots still leaves many areas of the Srinagar City unattended, therefore, while taking on record the 28 identified sites in category ‘B’ we direct the Divisional Commissioner and all concerned authorities to ensure that these sites are developed as such with promptitude after following the due procedure of law. Additionally, we direct the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, to identify more sites for parking of vehicles in the left out areas of Srinagar city and Rural Areas”, the court observed adding that 16 roadside parking slots have been identified by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to be allowed for use of parking vehicles. DB observed that court is of view not to modify the order to the extent of all 16 identified roadside parking but on consideration, we allow the roadside parking at seven places viz from Linz Restaurant to CID Headquarter; from Linz Restaurant to SSP Traffic Office between Chinars; in front of Sher-i-Kashmir Park; from Tao Restaurant to General Post Office; Press Enclave parking, single lane opposite Pratap Park; Single lane parking near Deputy Commissioner’s Office and Dharam Trust Office to BSNL Office Kothi Bagh. Let the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, and the District Magistrate, Srinagar, file their compliance in this behalf by the next date, the court observed. The suggestion made in the compliance report by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir for using the lands near District Court Complex Bemina (to be regulated by SDA) and on Boulevard Road and near Mughal Garden (to be regulated by LAWDA), is accepted and the necessary steps in this behalf be undertaken in accordance with law. The suggestion made at (E) in the compliance report is accepted and the signages are ordered to be erected near the cross-roads for the convenience of the general public. The suggestion made at (F) in the compliance report as regards the parking charges is accepted. The Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, is directed to take immediate steps for procuring the 50 Digital Time Recording Machines for monitoring of parking intervals. Due to shortage of parking space in the High Court Complex, DB asked the Chief Secretary of J&K, to explore the possibility of handing over the evacuee property premises land behind the Advocate General’s Office for its use as parking space by the High Court. DB further observed that the Court while considering the matter was inclined to extend the scope of the directions to the Jammu region also which is witnessing the traffic chaos equally, however, the same was deferred at the request of B. A. Dar, Sr. AAG, who assured that necessary measures would be taken in Jammu as well to see that the Jammu City is also relieved of the traffic chaos. “Let B.A Dar, Sr. AAG, shall do the needful till next date and apprise the court about the preparedness of the officers to deal with the issue in Jammu city vis-a-vis implementation of the directions passed by this Court for the Kashmir Division. Dar shall file his report in this behalf by or before the next date of hearing”, the court observed. Regarding switching over to CNG, DB observed that the compliance report submitted on this issue suggests that the Government of J&K is taking decision on the case to case basis, based on the structural integrity and left out life of the vehicles. A detailed report in this behalf is directed to be submitted by the Principal Secretary to the Government emphasizing therein the cases considered and resolved so far since April 19, 2017, the date when the Chief Secretary of J&K is shown to have submitted his affidavit before the court in this behalf. Regarding imposing complete ban on 15-25-year-old commercial vehicles, DB observed that in compliance to the directions on issue, the respondents have submitted that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has launched a scheme under the name “Transport Subsidy Scheme for replacement of 15-year-old vehicles (Buses and Mini Buses)”. DB further directed respondents to file the details of the 71 owners who have applied under the Transport Subsidy Scheme. The respondents are further directed to implement on ground the scheme by giving a wide publicity so that people can avail the benefit. The compliance report must indicate in detail as to what steps have been taken for introducing E-Rickshaws in the Jammu and Srinagar Cities. DB also directed Inspector General of Police, (Traffic), J&K, to indicate in his report the hiccups his department is facing in regulating the free flow of traffic in Jammu and Kashmir. The report must also include his suggestions that he feels should be adopted towards resolving the traffic mismanagement, the court added.
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