Image: Northeast Now

Shops at Garali, the commercial hub of eastern Assam’s Jorhat, downed their shutters from 4 pm on Tuesday in protest against the police move to make the road one way in order to ease traffic congestion.

Ever since the move was initiated on February 14 by making Garali one way from 5 pm to 9 pm with vehicles being allowed entry from the Nirmal/Bata Chariali and exiting from the K B Road turning point, businesses on both sides of the street have suffered losses of 10 to 50 per cent.

After 5 pm the once bustling Garali wore a deserted look and several shops closed by 7 pm for want of business.

The Garali Business Association had called for indefinite closure of the road from Tuesday but withdrew it following discussions with officer in charge of Jorhat Police Station N K Bora.

Also read: Assam: Police move to ease traffic congestion kills trade in Jorhat’s commercial hub

An office bearer of the association said the OC had asked them to withdraw the protest as the police would be busy on Tuesday and Wednesday because of Governor’s visit and that they would be called on Thursday to find out a solution to the problems.

The office bearer said the association had agreed to this and wait for an outcome of the discussions which would hopefully be in their favour.

The Garali Business Association had given a representation to the superintendent of police last Wednesday but nothing had come of it with the SP adopting a wait and watch attitude.

One shopkeeper said the move may have been successful in easing the traffic jam, undoubtedly a burning problem in Jorhat town area, but no one is now bothered to do a round of almost two kilometers from places located to the north and south of Garali.

The detour from KB Road would take one through the AT Road via the road in front of JB College and vice versa from five pm.

People usually came here to shop after office hours or after returning home from office and then returning to shop and snack accompanied by their spouse or children.

Sales peaked during that time.

With no headway in the  proposed Rs 10.5 crore multi storey parking lot for which Rs 2.4 crore has already been pumped into the now swamp site, the police had probably no other option but taking recourse to making the road one way.

The multi storied parking complex for 200 cars had been launched by the Jorhat Municipal Board in 2012 after evacuating shops from the old public bus stand but after the base was constructed and iron rods for pillars put in work completely stopped for various reasons.

With no proper parking place under any mall or shopping complex , the roads got narrowed with parked and double parked vehicles, not to mention autos and tempos stopping and picking up and dropping passengers at any and every place.

Smita Bhattacharyya

Smita Bhattacharyya is Northeast Now Correspondent in Jorhat. She can be reached at: triptyaddy@gmail.com