Known for its gushing springs and long history of existence, this beautiful south Kashmir town is spreading haphazardly in every direction in absence of a Master Plan.
“It is an irony that this town is without a Master Plan,” an official exclaimed, wondering that the proposal on it is gathering dust for years.
Another official said that for want of a Master Plan, there have been massive building construction violations in the town. “Even in some cases, buildings have come up on streams, springs, irrigation canals, and flood channels,” he said.
“Many water bodies have either vanished altogether or have been reduced to drains and cesspools as residential houses, shops, and toilets have been raised over them,” Kausar Majeed, a local said.
Majeed cited the pathetic condition of Aaripat stream, Ladi-Laizbal irrigation canal, flood channels passing through Anchidora, Chee, and Qazibagh, Nagbal spring outlets at Mattan Chowk and Dangerpora and Gajinag springs at Kadipora.
“There is no plan of decongesting the town; The narrow streets and squeezed lanes in the old town cause frequent traffic jams,” Adil Sheikh of Malakanag said.
He said that most of the roads including Cheeni-Chowk-Malakhnag-Sherpora; Janglat mandi-Sherpora-Doonipawa, Cheeni Chowk-Janglat Mandi; Mattan Chowk-Dangerpora; Sherbagh- Reeshi Bazar and Kadipora-Sarnal are so narrow that even a single vehicle finds it difficult to navigate.
“Certain areas along Khanabal-Pahalgam (KP) road and Khanabal- Mehandi Kadal road must be declared non-permissible (green zones) for any commercial or residential structures, but instead, haphazard constructions are thriving there,” said Rao Farman Ali, writer and activist.
“There has been a rapid urban shift from rural areas and with this the density of the town has reached as high as 1200 per Km”.
He said that new residential colonies should be established to overcome the problem of congestion in old town.
“The government had already designated plots at high ground for Fatehgarh residential colony prior to the nineties but that was unfortunately the plan was shelved after army occupied the orchard land there,” said Farman.
He said that the government should now reconsider the proposal to overcome the problem of congestion.
He said that residential colonies which have come up during the last two decades on KP road and Achajipora- Moominabad sans proper drainage.
Locals also suggested that the land available at the high ground can be used for establishing cricket stadium and technical colleges.
Chief Town Planner Fayaz Ahmad Khan said a consultancy has already been selected to prepare a draft master plan under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urbanization Transformation (AMRUT) scheme.
“As soon as it is prepared it will be sent to the government for final approval,” Khan said.
He said the previous draft plan prepared by them stands cancelled following the launch of AMRUT.