Srinagar: Thousands of people have been left in lurch after traffic police authorities Monday stopped entry and exit of Tata Sumo and other taxi services coming from other districts into Srinagar and vice versa.
This was followed by 2017 order of High Court and as per the order, “The traffic authorities have been told not to allow Tata Sumos and taxis coming from south and north Kashmir beyond the Pantha Chowk and Parimpora bus stands.”
The directions were issued by a division bench of the High Court which was hearing a public interest litigation to streamline the traffic in Srinagar.
The proposal to restrict the entry of the Srinagar-bound passenger taxis into the city was first put forward by the Transport Department after Batamaloo General Bus Stand was shifted to Parimpora.
However, the decision to restrict the entry of passenger taxi coming from various districts into the city and vice versa has left people in dismay especially in evening when public transport on most of the routes is not available.
Safina Wani, one of the passenger travelling from Srinagar to Kanipora said, “I am working in a Srinagar based private school and I usually travel in sumo because it is the only fast mode of transportation in the valley.”
However, she said on Monday when she was travelling in a sumo, they were not allowed to go beyond Nowgam by the traffic police authorities and were forced to make U-turn at Nowgam bypass.
“I reside at Kanipora which comes with Budgam district and this is why we were not allowed to cross Srinagar district. The diver dropped me at Nowgam chowk and he went back. I have to wait for hours for another sumo to reach my home. It really caused lot of inconvenience as tens of passengers were stranded on road,” she added.
Similarly, she said, “In morning as well the sumo which was coming from Kaninpora to Lal chowk was not allowed to cross Nowgam, they were stopped there and passengers had to board another sumo to reach Lal chowk. This sudden change in traffic rules has created a lot of problems for us.”
The taxi owner have also experienced losses over the decision of the government and say that government ‘has a plan to disband sumo services in the Srinagar city’.
“The restrictions of sumo services outside city have affected us badly. We are experiencing Rs 1,000 loss every day. We have to make u-turn at Nowgam bypass to reach Lal chowk from Sanatnagar because traffic police does not allow us to move towards Kanipora,” said one of the Sumo drivers at Iqbal Park.
He said that they have been travelling on this route for many years and now all of the sudden government has changed it.
“Government should come forward and make it clear what are the new designated routes so that passenger as well as sumo drivers will not suffer. Earlier passenger going to Kanipora, Karlpora had to board direct sumo at Iqbal Park but now the same passenger have to change two sumos to reach the place which is time consuming,” he added.
Besides, the decision to restrict the entry of taxis into the city has also caused inconvenience to patients and students, who prefer Tata Sumos and other taxis over local buses.
A Traffic Police official on the condition of anonymity confirmed that they are not allowing the sumo services to go out of the Srinagar city and neither any sumo coming from Kanipora, Pantha Chowk or Parimpora are allowed to enter the city.
Senior Superintendent of Traffic Police, Javaid Koul did not respond to the repeated calls from Free Press Kashmir.