Srinagar Master Plan to be reviewed soon

US firm among aspiring troubleshooters

FAHEEM ASLAM

Srinagar, Dec 16: If all goes as planned, the Srinagar City is all set to get a major facelift in the next few months with a holistic and professional review of this historic City’s Master Plan in tune with modern urban planning. 
 In a significant development, the Jammu and Kashmir government has initiated the process to take a holistic review of the Srinagar Master Plan (2001-2021) in a bid to decongest the City, develop heritage sites and put a halt on reckless constructions around.
 The Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), entrusted with the job of developing the Master Plan for the city, has invited ‘expressions of interest’ from various urban planning consultancies across India for the mid-term review of the Master Plan 2001-2021.
 The objective, according to officials, is to see how best the City could be developed on modern lines in the wake of mounting vehicular traffic and need to protect its distinct heritage and unique water bodies.
 “Ideally the Master Plan has to be reviewed after every five years. But since that has not been done so far, we thought it appropriate to take a holistic review of it and see if any modifications can be made therein to decongest the City and protect its heritage sites and water bodies to the best possible extent,” said the SDA Vice-Chairman, Kifayat Hussain Rizvi, when asked why the Authority felt the need to review the Master Plan 2001-2021.
 So far, Rizvi said, they have received some 20 ‘expressions of interest’ from some reputable urban development/planning firms. “We are evaluating the credentials of the consultancies and shall select the best possible one under norms. The idea is to bring the Srinagar City at par with other metropolitan cities with all the ultra-modern facilities. Apart from other areas, the selected firm will have to be engaged in formulating the development plans with regard to urban transportation, heritage protection and conservation of water bodies as also outlining a broader vision for the city’s development on modern lines,” Rizvi told Greater Kashmir.
 According to sources, various reputable companies, including some multinational consultancies have submitted their proposals for mid-term review of the Srinagar Master Plan, highlighting their technical expertise, experience in the relevant field and the annual turnover.
 Sources said the renowned US-based firm, The Louis Berger Group Inc USA, has also submitted expression of interest, underlining its experience in Urban Planning, Traffic and Transportation, Infrastructure and Environment Projects globally.
 The need to review the Master Plan comes in the wake of rising vehicular congestion on the city streets and also the “rampant violation” of the Master Plan in various areas of City. 
 “During the past one decade, so many people have violated the provisions of the Master Plan. If the land-use norms in some areas were residential, it was converted into commercial. Then there were some recommendations that had to be taken up from the Master Plan like shifting of some establishments from the Central Business District which extends from Dalgate to Batamaloo. Some new projects had to be taken up under it. So the Plan is being reviewed to examine how much work has been done and how much is left to be done,” said an SDA official. “Also it will be seen if some modifications need to be made in the Master Plan to make it more effective on ground. If all goes as planned, you may see a different Srinagar city in the next few years.”
 According to official estimates, there are at least 2 to 3 lakh vehicles of all types in Srinagar City, excluding the floating traffic in the form of tourist buses and vehicles of armed forces. This is not only leading to acute traffic jams, but also hampering the overall development of the City. 
 SDA is also planning to seek suggestions from the general public for any improvements in the existing Master Plan once a consultancy is finalised for the purpose. “Review of the Master Plan has become a necessity. But any such initiative demands public participation and cooperation,” said Rizvi. “Otherwise it is not going to be a success. Besides we are also contemplating to increase the level of coordination between different agencies concerning the development of Srinagar City. That coordination is a must to effectively implement the provisions of the Master Plan.”
 On violations of the Master Plan, Rizvi said the state government has already constituted a committee in this regard. “They have been assigned the task to report the violations, if any, for necessary action under law,” he said. “When the committee will submit its report, we shall certainly act against the defaulters.”
 Pertinently, according to the Srinagar Master Plan, a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir, the First Master Plan came up in 1971 up to 1991. That time the Srinagar Metropolitan City Area was 236 Sq Kms, with eight Planning Divisions and 151 Zones. After it ran its life, the SDA took up the preparation of the Second Master Plan, which is currently in vogue. Here the Srinagar Metropolitan City Area was estimated to be about 416 Sq Kms, with 16 Planning Divisions and 231 Zones. It was projected for a population of 23.50 lakhs.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 16 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 16 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 17 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST




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