Editorial | Vanishing Green Spaces

All talk about how beautiful a valley called Kashmir is and how captivating a city called Srinagar is, fact of the matter is that both have lost the natural touch they had, and they were famous for. We might stick to the old poetical lines about Srinagar and that oft repeated comment that it is the Venice of East, just a look around will tell us that there is hardly anything left in this city that can qualify such comments. The old pictures of this city depicting its mesmerising water bodies,  captivating gardens and green cover, charming flowers, and a clear blue sky creating an atmosphere of  trance are all things gone for good. This city is spoiled beyond recognition. The water bodies are gone, choked, filthy, or filled and extinct. Similarly there are no green spaces. The report that Srinagar is acutely short of green spaces once measured against the national-level standards, should now open up our eyes. It gives a peek into what we have made of this city and where we are headed.

According to the official data that has been made available Srinagar has 169 parks, that cover about 287 hectares of land. This is against a minimum standard of 570 hectares under the green spaces as per the Urban and Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (URDPFI) guidelines-2015. If this is the state of affairs where do we stand. As a civil society are we mindful of  the shrinking green spaces in the city. Similarly, those government departments that are assigned the task of creating and maintaining gardens, parks and other green zones should revisit their policies and schemes. There must be an audit of what these departments have done till now. And above all the government and the civil society should seriously think on how to stop this process of shrinking of green spaces, and up ahead how to create more such spaces. It is not just about the scientific debate about environment, it is about the very being of this city.