Municipality Slept While Snow Clogged The Lanes
1 March 2005
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Please don't take it as a sick joke. Srinagar Municipality actually claims that it has spend Rs 12 lakh on clearing snow from the city's lanes and bylanes. Its Commissioner says Rs 6 lakh was spent only on fuel or vehicles deployed for snow-clearance, a lakh on the purchase of spades and other tools while Rs 5 lakh was paid to private manual labourers, as 'the magnitude of the snowfall was beyond the physical capacity of our 1,900-strong staff of safai-karamcharis.' The municipality claims that the city was divided into four zones and a massive snow clearance effort was initiated by pressing into service all its men and machinery. In fact, there are no witnesses needed to nail this lie because the Municipality was literally missing from the city for the past two weeks. It was only in VVIP lanes that it was making its presence felt. A team of The Indian Express correspondents travelled across the city to uncover the truth behind these tall claims. HABAKADAL: When we reached this downtown locality, the lanes were clean. Although piles of snow was heaped on the sides, there was a clear path for traffic. We thought it was the work of the SMC until the residents came out to tell us how they had cleared the lane leading from the main road to Syed Mansoor Sahib themselves. 'Nobody came to clear this lane, we'd to fall back on ourselves,' fumed Ajaz Ahmad Mir, a resident of Chota Bazar. Ghulam Hassan, who lives on Zabah Khana Lane, said they waited for a day hoping that SMC would spring into action as it used to in the past, but to no avail. 'Nobody came this time, and we finally decided to shovel out the snow ourselves.' ZALDAGAR: This downtown neighbourhood with congested lanes and bylanes were still brimming with snow. The narrow path leading to Khanwari mohalla had been mopped by the residents. 'Each household donated Rs 100 and then we engaged labourers to clear this path,' said Abdul Razak Ganai, who runs a mutton shop here. 'Even the adjacent lanes were cleared by residents themselves. We haven't seen a safai karamchari or any other SMC official.' QAMARWARI: The residents here say they waited for days, but when SMC did not turn up, the residents themselves arranged for spades and cleared the road. 'For three days, we waited for Municipality people but there was no sign of them. Since it was difficult to walk in the snow, we cleared the lanes on our own,' said Abdul Rashid Haji, a resident of Arjumand Lane here. BEMINA: Manzoor Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Hamdania Colony, said the residents approached the municipality several times. 'They (the SMC officials) only gave us assurances but never came to clear the lanes,' he said. 'We had to clear the snow ourselves.' It was ditto for Abdul Rashid Khan, who said: 'I called several of my family members to mop up the snow.' ABI GUZAR: This business hub in the heart of the city saw clear roads after two days but its bylanes are still clogged with snow. Altaf Hussasin Shah, a local shopkeeper, said: 'The lanes are still covered with snow. We have managed to carve only a narrow lane.' SOURA: This area towards the north on the banks of Anchar lake was also a picture of neglect. 'The youth of our locality cleared the road to make a path for walking,' said Ghulam Mohi-u-din Kandoo of Shawlbaff Mohalla near the shrine of Jinab-Sahib Soura. NOWHATTA: The main road that runs through this area was cleared by the Mechanical Engineering Division but the inner areas were given a miss. At one point, the piles of snow made it impossible for the residents to visit the local mosque.