'Srinagar nearly 50% deficient of organised parks, gardens'

The summer capital has nearly 50% deficient organized parks and gardens against norms, official data states.

As per official data, there are as many as 169 parks existing in Srinagar city with a total area of about 287 hectares against the minimum standard of 570 hectares as provided in the Urban and Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (URDPFI) guidelines, 2015.

“This implies that the total area available under organised parks and gardens is deficient by close to fifty percent of the total requirement. There is no denying the fact that Srinagar city is grossly deficient in organised green spaces (parks and gardens),” reads the document prepared by Housing and Urban Development department.

As per the URDPFI guidelines, the suggested standards for open spaces in large and metropolitan cities are 1.2 to 1.4 hectares per 1000 persons, depending upon the land availability.

Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that cities should provide nine square metres of unpaved open space for every inhabitant. The WHO also suggests designing green area networks so that all residents live within a 15 minute walk to an open space.

Srinagar has meagre 2.6 square metres per capita green space availability against the minimum standard of nine square metres green space per city dweller prescribed by WHO.

In Indian cities, according to the urban greening guidelines, 2014, a report from the ministry of urban development, the per capita green space in metropolitan cities is better than the Srinagar.

Varanasi (24.78 sq m), Bhopal (18.62 sq m) and Chandigarh (17.43 sq m) are much better in this respect than Srinagar. Gandhinagar fares spectacularly with 162 sq m of green space per person.

On 15 September 2018, the J&K High Court has asked the chief Secretary to take a call on the letter addressed by a former judge of Jammu and Kashmir High Court to it with regard to enhancing green space in Srinagar.

Former chief justice of Bihar, Justice (retd) Bilal Nazki in May 2016 had written a letter to the chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court highlighting how the city is lacking the green spaces.  In 2017, the High court treated the letter as Public Interest Litigation.

Except for few, Srinagar has lost many historic gardens including DewanBagh, Baghi Ali Mardan and BaghiDilawar Khan.

There are at least five government agencies directly responsible for the development and maintenance of public parks in J&K; Department of floriculture, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Srinagar Development Authority, J&K Housing board and landscape division, PW(R&B) department.