Not many years back we had ample spaces all around where children would play, and elders would also relax. In our localities there were even spaces for womenfolk to gather and have some lighter moments.
Srinagar city, and major towns in Kashmir, were dotted with such spaces. We would have never thought of a time when such spaces would disappear, and disappear almost totally.
We were not even mindful of the function these spaces had in our collective life. They acted as breathing mechanism for us as a collective organism.
But now we have hardly any left around us. Some odd grounds and parks that are maintained by the concerned government departments are nowhere close to meeting the demands of an ever increasing population. Add to it the mobility of people from surrounding areas into the city and major towns.
This has put a huge strain on land. In this scenario we are losing every inch of space that was bestowed to us by the natural landscape of our valley. Ours is a case of urban sprawl - haphazard, chaotic, and suffocating. Our children have no grounds to play, hence outdoor sports is dying in its popular appeal.
Our elders have no space to meet their neighbors and enjoy some relaxing moments, hence a reason to feel mentally stressed. Our womenfolk have nowhere to go in the vicinity and this brings in lots of strain into our families.
One of the main reasons for this is the unplanned and unregulated growth of residential areas. The government intervention in establishing residential zones and ensuring strict application of rules, has led to this situation.
We have mansions to live in, but not a small park around to go for a morning jog, or an evening walk. This is tragic. For the governments we had in past, and the current administration, this is a live question.
Someone needs to answer the question and fix the responsibility in this case. More than that, the current administration needs to map the urban landscape and try to reclaim some spaces that are yet to disappear. That is the only way we can make our city, and the towns, breathe some fresh air.