“We have recently demolished at least 15 illegal shops that were established on the state land. Few more demolitions are expected to be carried out in near future”
24-year-old Junaid was literally pissed off after spending almost an hour in the massive traffic jam near Narsoo Nallah of Samroli on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, courtesy a feast of traditional ‘Noon Chai’ and freebies of car wash.
“This is the height of uncivilized behavior. I am regular traveler on this highway and I always find this stretch of road mired with traffic jam, especially when the movement is from Srinagar to Jammu,” rued Junaid, adding that most of the drivers halt at Narsoo Nallah, not only to enjoy Noon Chai, but to get their vehicles washed.
He said that the private owners have also started following the precedence and they too deliberately stop at Narsoo Nallah in Samroli to get their vehicles cleaned, which is more of a complimentary service for the passengers, having a cup of Noon Chai.
“There is nothing wrong, I believe, in getting vehicles washed, but the drivers and owners must understand that other passengers and vehicles face enormous problems because of their untimely halts,” said Junaid, adding that the drivers apply brakes anywhere as per their wishes, thus triggering huge traffic jams.
Manjeet Singh, a driver with a local transport company said that more than anything else, unorganized and haphazard parking outside the tea stalls is responsible for the traffic jams.
“The shop owners must dedicate an open space behind their shops for car washing and parking. It will not only clear the road, but also reduce the chances of road withering, which is otherwise normal due to free flow of water,” Singh said and added that the administration is also responsible for this mess.
He stated that during down movement from Jammu to Srinagar, this stretch poses not much problems, as vehicles try to reach their destinations as soon as possible, but in case of up movement from Srinagar to Jammu, the road stretch at Samroli is ‘horrible’.
“After traversing the hard stretch of Banihal to Ramban, vehicles reach Samroli almost at the same time and halt for car wash and tea, which triggers unprecedented traffic jams and sometimes linger for hours,” said Singh, adding that the administration must ensure dedicated washing points at the place.
Meanwhile, passengers feel that Samroli provides them a much needed break from the tiring journey.
“Our family and friends always stop at Samroli, when coming from Srinagar to Jammu. The traditional tea here provides much needed break from the exhaustive journey, especially through the stretch of Banihal and Ramban,” said Waseem Andrabi, adding that it is generally believed that due to normalcy in Jammu, it is ok to reach late night, which is otherwise not a sane idea when traveling from Jammu to Srinagar.
He said that the dust, caused due to road widening projects, makes their vehicles look terrible, thus cleaning without paying a penny is what most of the people welcome.
“Many people, especially Kashmiris, visit Jammu as a tourist for a month or two, so they put up with their relatives in rented accommodations. In such cases, putting the burden of dirty vehicles on the relative is awkward,” asserted Andrabi.
Meanwhile, talking to The Typewriter a local shop owner, Aaquib Fayaz said that they have already dedicated a spot for washing the vehicles, but due to some impatient drivers, they face traffic jams.
“We are very concerned about the smooth flow of vehicular traffic on the highway, but sometimes some impatient drivers park their vehicles on the road, despite our requests of parking it at allotted slots,” said Fayaz, adding that it becomes all more hectic for them only when unorganized and haphazard parking causes traffic Jam.
He said that the shop owners have to put their workers on the job of clearing traffic many times.
“Our men, especially during late hours, can be seen streamlining the traffic to ensure smooth flow,” said Aaquib, adding that the drivers must understand that their wrong parking can cause problems for everyone, including passengers, other drivers, as well as hotel owners.
It is pertinent to mention here that Samroli is a famous spot that serves traditional Kashmiri tea, called Noon Chai, also known as shir chai, gulabi chai or pink tea. It is a traditional tea beverage, originating from the Kashmir Valley, made with gunpowder tea, milk and baking soda. The place is also known for “Kelladi with green chilli chatni”.
When contacted Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Traffic, National Highway, Jatinder Singh Johar said that they have already communicated the concerned authorities about the matter.
“We have already informed the district administration and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) about the problems caused due to haphazard parking on the roads near Narsoo Nallah. We have also told them about the relative distance these shops should have from the main road. It is prerogative of the district administration as well as NHAI to decide whether to keep these shops at the same spot or to change them as per guidelines,” said SSP, adding that such practice of car washing is definitely causing problems in the smooth movement of vehicular traffic.
Talking to The Typewriter, Deputy Commissioner, Udhampur, Piyush Singla said that they have recently demolished illegal shops.
“We have recently demolished at least 15 illegal shops that were established on the state land. Few more demolitions are expected to be carried out in near future,” Said DC Udhampur, adding that notices have also been served by Jal Shakti department for removing illegal water connections. Few connections have been disconnected also.