A cesspool called Srinagar

It just takes an hour of a downpour to convert the summer capital of the state into a big puddle and a day of rain to create a threatening situation for more than million denizens of the thousand-year-old city. The anger and annoyance manifest at a recent presser by the Kashmir Economic Alliance, one the of the important trade bodies against the government’s failure to provide even an efficient drainage system was not uncalled for. The traders’ organization had correctly stated that failed drainage system in the commercial hub of the city has not only been a source of big inconvenience to commuters, but it equally has been taking a toll on the state economy. Most of the traders in the major commercial center, Lal Chowk, spreading over two kilometers because of the water logging suffer huge financial losses. This, in fact, is the story of entire Srinagar. Moreover, it exposes all the organizations including the Srinagar Development Authority, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, and all the departments directly or indirectly connected with its maintenance and development. ‘The Municipal Corporation has in its kitty Rs. 170 crores unspent earmarked for improving drainage system, but for the reasons best known to the managers of the organization this money is not utilized for the purpose it is meant for. The corporation owes an explanation to the taxpayers of the state why despite the availability of funds it has chosen to cause one after another inconvenience to people. The administration at the same needs to conduct an inquiry into the working of the SDA and the Corporation. It is not only the job of the government but also the civil society to conduct a public audit of the corporations and departments connected with the development of the city, through mediums like Right to Information. For past many years the print media of Kashmir has been agitating over the archaic system of granting building permissions that has wider scope for corruption – it is a known fact that even crumbled walls cannot be reconstructed without gratification. It is also a known fact that all the constructions inside the Dal and Nageen Lakes and all river basins like that of the Doodh Ganga and the Jhelum have been consented for by the SDA and the Municipal Corporation. Had the top state administration only taken a note of the news reports and opinion writings about the sinking of the city, and acted accordingly, the city perhaps would not have been converted into a cesspool.