“Heart of Valley”

The introduction of the Single Line Administration scheme in the mid-seventies was a novel and practical idea for participative governance and for percolating down benefits of development to the remotest villages. The District Development Boards were created under the scheme for micro planning at the district and tehsil levels in the initial years. Sadly, the constituency driven, and parochial mindset of some powerful ministers in various cabinets largely defeated the idea and the summer capital of Srinagar suffered the worst. The Venice of the East, known for its blue lagoons, pristine serpentine waterways and clean air just in a couple of decades came to be known as the dirtiest city in India. The vote bank politics also contributed to the destruction of the city. Some important heritage sites like the wall around the Nagar-Nagari have been almost lost to the cheap tactics of winning over voters.  For some years, all the chief ministers have promised ambitious projects for restoring the beauty of Srinagar city, but so far substantially nothing has been done, not to speak of converting the old city into heritage city, a tourist destination, it could not even save the Brari-Namabal, a lagoon barely a furlong away from the state power centre. In fact, it can be said without reservation that all chief ministers during past over three decades have failed to salvage the city of Srinagar. It will be making history if any chief ministerlives up to his commitment and restores the glory of the thousand-year-old city. In her maiden Srinagar District Development Board meeting the new Chief Minister called Srinagar as "heart of Valley,". True, for its history, cosmopolitan culture and beauty, this city is the soul of the State. It augurs well that the state government is once again contemplating to formulate a comprehensive roadmap to transform the urban landscape of the summer capital. There can be no denying that the areas of priorities like strengthening embankments and dredging of the river Jhelum and improving connectivity in the city identified by chief minister need immediate attention. However, for restoring the Srinagar city to its glory, making it a modern city and persevering its cultural ambiance, the government should constitute a broad-based committee and rope in the best town planners, historians, artists and cultural activists of the state. 

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