Srinagar: Ill-planning in execution of development projects in Srinagar has evoked massive resentment from people who term it as sheer wastage of public money.
Simultaneous construction and reconstruction of projects in Srinagar at the same place have raised question marks over ill-planning by the concerned departments. Experts and citizens said such moves are aimed to allow contractors to use such projects as “money-minting machines.”
Recently a viral social media post showed how a road divider in Srinagar was dismantled and developed back without any changes. The post claimed that the same stones were used, and they failed to understand the purpose of such constructions.
The before and after pictures showed an almost identical divider that was dismantled.
“This is only a glimpse of how in the name of Smart City projects, public money is being used and no one is supposed even to question this brazen loot,” a netizen, commenting on the post.
In another such case, demolition of a concrete park at Lal Chowk raised many eyebrows. The authorities demolished the concrete park that was created just a few years back to give a facelift to the city center near the famous clock tower. Srinagarites were aghast when it was demolished to make space for new project.
After resentment, the officials from the Srinagar Smart City Ltd said that a Plaza would be built at the place. The SMC Commissioner also ensured that the material of the concrete park would be used and no money would be wasted.
“The drainage network around Lal Chowk will be enhanced, and the Plaza will give a facelift to the city center. Many new things will come up with the plaza, which will be good for the people of Srinagar. These new works are taking place in and around Lal Chowk as a part of the redevelopment plan to make the city center a beautiful and hassle-free place,” said an official.
People, however, questioned that after investing public money into such projects, these are dismantled, wasting public money.
“This has become a routine in Srinagar. You will see footpaths, dividers, roads, and parks being developed, and after a few years, the tenders are again floated, and these projects are redone with little or no changes. Every year coloring footpaths and making small changes in the name of development is done. A project is executed after investing crores of rupees. If it is demolished after every few years, it is a waste of public money,” said Irshad Ahmed, an office goer at Lal Chowk.
Locals have said that such practices have been witnessed around various parts of Lal Chowk , Boulevard road, foreshore road and other places where projects are being replaced without much thought. As people welcome Smart City Projects, but they say they should not be executed in a haphazard way.
“Years back, Dal Lake banks along the foreshore road overlooking Hazratbal was fenced, developed and tiles were replaced many times to make it look good. Benches with beautiful roofs with wood were placed along it where people used to rest. Last year the whole thing was dismantled, and a cycle track is being built.
It is a good project, and everyone welcomes it, but had a proper survey been done, the offices would have found out what is the feasible project there which don’t need to be dismantled. It wastes public money and only fills the pockets of construction companies. I hope this new project will not be replaced in the next two years,” said Zameer Ahmad, a local from Nishat.
Likewise, footpaths have been face-lifted several times along the famous Boulevard road. Experts believe that design is an important identity of a place and should not be changed without planning. They say street lights, and tile structure becomes the identity of a place, and changing and replacing it at a place like the Boulevard is not a smart practice.
Senior town planner Hamid Wani said that “if a city has a master plan which is approved, it should be followed while taking up new projects.” “If some infrastructure is in good working condition, it should be incorporated within the new project so as to use public money judiciously.”
“The purpose of a Smart City is a smart investment. There is already a crunch of funds when it comes to urban development, so we have to go for effective investment. If a road is being constructed and there is a footpath along, which is in good condition, why demolish it and reconstruct it? Unfortunately, this is what usually happens. When we are going for any project, the in charge should take a proper and detailed survey so that the project that is executed does not need to be replaced after a few years. Opinion from the public and experts is equally important,” Wani said.
The locals and experts said that they understand that the aim of projects is to provide facilities and facelift the city. They, however, said that authorities should not allow making new projects just a money-minting machine for contractors and companies.