‘Plan full of contradictions’
As the draft master plan 2035 is yet to be finalized, environmental policy group – an enviro-social think tank claimed that the draft plan full is full of contradictions saying it will lead to destruction of historic Srinagar.
EPG in a well-researched 14-page critical analysis report on Master Plan 2034 submitted to Governor NN Vohra has demanded that authorities to revisit the plan document.
“We hope that the Master Plan which is the cornerstone for spatio-economic development of Srinagar is comprehensively revisited, purged of all vested interest under the guidance of an eminent or a team of reputed professional town planners,” EPG states in its report.
“The revised master plan, prepared for private vested interest than the greater public good will compromise the great historic Srinagar. Earlier master plans may have made mistakes but those were inadvertent, whereas this master plan is by design a plan for the destruction of Srinagar. Any approval in the current form will be regressive and will accelerate the early death of the city,” it adds.
Critically analysing proposals made in the draft master plan, EPG claims shifting of civil secretariat “may be a strategy to compensate the land mafia of Nowgam for the lands purchased on peanuts as the government will be forced to acquire this land.”
EPG’s objections submitted to Governor points out to the “unrealistic” tourist projections made in the draft plan.
“Unrealistic Tourist Projections – 2035 Projected tourist arrivals of 7 million in 2035 chapter 9 (Page 85) is flawed and unrealistic. There is no instance of such a high rate of growth in tourist arrivals in the World, more so, in a conflict area like Kashmir which has not even surpassed the tourist arrival figure of 1988.”
“Is it realistic that a city of 3 million will be able to handle an added population of 7 million? These are ghost projections based on ghost calculations,” they claim.
Further the document states that the Master Plan has also prescribed the eco-sensitive zones for Dachigam National Park (actually in the domain of Supreme Court) and other reserves with utter disregard to the prescribed buffers under forest and other relevant laws, Supreme Court rulings banning commercial activities within 5 kms of the National Park.
“This seems to have been done to benefit the vested interests who, at the bidding of a former head of the Srinagar Development Authority and an ex-senior bureaucrats and influential politicians, purchased huge tracks of land in the vicinity of Dachigham National Park viz Dara, Khimber, Chatterhama under the camouflage of eco-tourism, adventure tourism and allied activities. This is a gateway to license them an entry and later involve in uncontrolled destruction of other tourist destinations have been subjected to. The buffer of only 1000m around prestigious Dachigam will not only compromise the pristine National Park but will lead to soil degradation in the lake watershed, hence accelerated death. This will also accelerate the death of Dal Lake due to the destruction of natural landscape,” it states.
EPG in its report has also lambasted the Srinagar development authority, stating that “it should not have been tasked to review the Master Plan 2000-21 as it has the history of having implemented the earlier master plans in breach converting Srinagar into a living hell.”
Srinagar draft master plan is yet to implemented as the previous government has constituted a committee to look into the objections raised by the public after the draft plan was put in public domain..