SRINAGAR- a walker’s nightmare
Footpaths of Srinagar and pavements adjoining major roads are shrinking by the day making it among the most pedestrian unfriendly cities in the subcontinent
CRISIS BY M SALEEM BEG
Srinagar is home to about a million people. Add to this regular flow of visitors from other parts of the valley for their daily chores like shopping, going to a good doctor, visiting offices and relatives. All this makes it one of the most congested cities in the country. Mercifully the mess and chaos of traffic has led the tourists, who again number a million now, to generally avoid main city. Of all civic amenities, the most neglected is walking and pedestrian movement in shopping areas, roads and foot paths. Footpaths of Srinagar and pavements adjoining major roads are shrinking by the day making it among the most pedestrian unfriendly cities in the subcontinent.
Like many other historic cities, Srinagar evolved as a city where people were meant to walk. Walking is about getting a feel and handle thereby enjoying the daily life. Thus pedestrians enjoy the first right on the roads. The advent of motor transport has progressively been encroaching on the pedestrian space. The utter disregard to the pedestrian movement in the current mobility plan has resulted in a nightmare where the citizens and visitors have to jostle for space between cars, buses and public vehicles.
We see pedestrians, choosing to risk their lives on a daily basis by walking alongside fast-moving cars and ominous buses instead of fighting for decent and walkable spaces. Srinagar, even in absence of any law, has had a fair mix of roads and foot paths. But all the stake holders managing the affairs of the city from Roads and buildings department to Municipal Corporation are showing utter disregard to the walk ways. The first onslaught on the walkways started in mid 70s when footpaths were allotted for construction of shops in civil lines. This menace grew with every passing year with a mix of encroachment and connivance of the authorities. One thing that we can not blame on militancy or that what was spared by the non governance during the peak militancy in 90s, was illegal occupation of footpaths and roads. This one act took place with the consent and connivance of municipal authorities and lower rung of judiciary where stay orders were dished out for protecting the encroachment.
Compounding the problem, the rampant encroachment by the hawkers with the tacit approval of the authorities has robbed the people of whatever was left out of these walkways. The main road junctions and foot paths also became favorite sites for construction of bunkers by the security forces. With bunkers, the most shabby structures, being now removed, shops have sprung up right, left, behind and along the vacated bunkers at many locations. There is no civil society constituency that protests for the right to decent and secure living in the city. It goes to the credit of local media that they have been highlighting these concerns of the citizenry. Unfortunately there has been a growing trend in the government not to take notice of such issues reported or commented upon in the media. The urban administration has failed the State. The highly insulated and unconcerned beauracracy has damaged the institution of civic administration beyond imagination. It is a very sad day for the citizens of Srinagar that they have been suffering inefficient, uninformed and unaccountable civic set up for too long.
While there has of late been a keen awareness about the plight of people who have to walk on the roads in many Indian cities, it seems the planners and the planning process in J&K has simply given up on this most crucial aspect of the citizens needs. The callous disregard for their rights is evident from the fact that there isn’t a single law, legislation, rule or code that protects or even voices their rights.
There is an urgent need to overhaul and sensitize the institutions like Municipality, Srinagar Development Authority and link Engineering and Revenue Departments. The State political leadership has to take a call on this without any further delay. There are best case scenarios in some Indian cities that can be replicated here. The situation in other towns of the state is equally bad, and worst in cases like Islamabad and Sopore. The success in urban management in Srinagar will have a demonstrative effect on these towns as well.
The writer is convener INTACH, J&K and former DG Tourism. firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Nov 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 1 Nov 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 2 Nov 2011 00:00:00 IST
- MORE FROM GK MAGAZINE
GK NEWS NETWORK
Srinagar, Nov 1: The students and parents have sharply reacted to the statement of Jammu Kashmir Plus Two Lecturers’ Forum in which it had supported the ‘defective’ three series system and single paper More
- Srinagar City
Ships of Desert are up for sale in this City in the Himalayas while the trend has picked up over the years
Srinagar, Nov 1: Something popular about the Middle-East seems to be picking up in this City in the Himalayas at-least when it comes to preparations for the Eid-ul-Azha celebrations. Like the desert countries More
Govt notifies draft scheme
GK NEWS NETWORK
Jammu, Nov 1: Residents of the State’s twin capital cities, Jammu and Srinagar, will soon be able to avail the services of luxury cabs at a very reasonable price. The State Government has decided to ply More
- South Asia
NISAR AHMED THOKAR
Rawalpindi, Nov 1: Bahdur Mir of Qazi Hamam Baramulla passed away on Tuesday after a fighting years-long battle against cancer. Mir, 70, breathed his last this morning at his residence at Khana Dakh More