City clutter echoes at ZGM’s book release function
‘Lack Of Political Vision, Official Neglect Destroying Srinagar’
Srinagar, Dec 15: Srinagar, the historic city, which used to be among the biggest and most populated cities in the subcontinent during the British rule, is decaying due to lack of political vision and official apathy.
The civil society members including former bureaucrats, poets, medicos and academicians, who got together at Kashmir University Thursday for the release of ‘Srinagar-My City My Dreamland,’ a book by prominent columnist, Zahid Ghulam Muhammad, were unanimous in their assertion that the historic city has been vandalized over the years and the successive regimes failed to take measures for its conservation. The book is a collection of write-ups penned by ZG Muhammad for Greater Kashmir, under the banner ‘ZGM Nostalgia’.
The alarm about the plight of Srinagar city was raised by the author himself who in his introductory speech about the book said “Srinagar is decaying.”
“This city is dying but not because of any natural intrigues but because of lack of political vision, neglect and official apathy,” Zahid told the jam-packed auditorium.
Noor-ul-Hassan Rufai, a former Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, who was a panelist at the book release function, said that Srinagar has become a “City of dogs”.
While blaming the “dirty politics” and misgovernance, Rufai said no measures were taken to conserve the historicity of this capital in the Himalayas.
“What happened to the topography of the City? What happened to Doodhganga which for now is nothing more than a drain chocked with polythene? What happened to precious water bodies?,” he said adding the City used to be so prosperous in the past that caravans of camels coming from Central Asia would pass this city.
“We used to have Burza roof (thatched roofing)? Walls used to be of mud and floor was wooden. All has been changed for the sake of modernisation,” he said.
Rufai said till 1942 there used to be a mosque atop Sulaiman hills. “But sometime back when I visited the site on Koh-e-Sulaiman even its remains couldn’t be found,” he said.
Poet Zarief Ahmed Zarief said the historic structures like Qalai Ander have been vandalized but that successive regimes had failed to conserve them.
The invitees spoke their heart out on the burial of Nallah Maar, a canal constructed by Budshah, which was land-filled during the regime of late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah.
Prof Noor Muhammad Baba of KU recapped that during his childhood days there were so many water bodies in the City that fishing and boating used to be a usual practice and means of enjoyment.
“My native place Eidgah used to be surrounded by water bodies, where are those now?” he asked.
“Cities have changed all over the world but as far as Srinagar is concerned the development has been negative,” he said.
Later talking to Greater Kashmir on the sidelines of the event, prominent paediatrician Dr Altaf Hussain said the entire City has been “thrown to dogs.”
Dr Altaf, native of Shahr-e-Khaas who was living in ZGM’s neighbourhood in the childhood, said the heritage character of the Old City has been brazenly vandalized and no attention was paid towards conservation measures.
“Historic Bachi Darwaza, was reconstructed so shabbily that it has no significance with its heritage character,” he said.
“The Jamia Masjid gates used to be so elegant but subsequently got vandalized,” he added.
Dr Altaf who has spent a considerable part of his life abroad said: “I have myself seen that leave apart the house even the bed on which William Shakespeare would sleep is as such even today.”
Senior separatist leader Javed Ahmed Mir while talking to Greater Kashmir said Srinagar was being “destroyed under a deep rooted conspiracy.”
“Speeches alone wont help, people from various walks of life should unite to save this historic City from further deterioration,” he added.
In his address Prof NA Sofi who was the chief guest at the book release said: “The City has lost its culture, ambience and pedigree because of two decades of political turmoil.”
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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