Srinagar City

It is peanuts. The requirements of Srinagar city are far greater than that could be meted out from the paltry sum of Rs. 76.82 Crores which includes plan revenue requirements.  Slicing off the p...

It is peanuts. The requirements of Srinagar city are far greater than that could be meted out from the paltry sum of Rs. 76.82 Crores which includes plan revenue requirements.  Slicing off the plan revenue requirements from the  amount sanctioned in the District Development Board meeting on Wednesday, the actual amount meant for the development of the sprawling Srinagar District is far less than the earmarked amount. The highlights of the plan adopted at the meeting include Rs. Ten crores for the beautification of areas around the Shrine of Dastigar Sahib Khanyar, Rs. Ten crores for the renovation of Mazar-e-Shohada at Khawaja Bazar and Rs. 5 Crores for development of heritage place in the city. Notwithstanding the fact that the present government was  voted to power for promising  providing of basic amenities to people, its approach   towards the overall development of Srinagar has been cosmetic. It has not been doing much that could be seen as welfare of the people. However, it is appreciable that it has earmarked some funds for development of the Martyrs' Graveyard and heritage sites in the old city. Instead of leaving development of the Martyrs' Graveyard and heritage sites to arm chair bureaucrats, the government should constitute a committee of historians, eminent town planners and other experts to see that these places come up as  monumental sites. The construction of Minar-e-Kashmir at the Martyrs' Graveyard would be adding an icon of identity to this historic city.  It is no secret that Srinagar District both the city and its suburbs have remained neglected for the past more than two decades and more particularly it was totally ignored during the past six years.  For the negligence of the authorities this ancient city, having cradled great tradition and culture that has earned Kashmir a distinctive position not only in South Asia only but in the whole of the world, has lost its coveted position of being one of the beautiful cities in the world. Seen in right perspective this Venice of the East started losing its beauty after sixties and for the failure of the state authorities to come up with any well thought out plan for its preservation today, it has been converted into a very big slum.  Besides the government's failure to take timely measures for restoring the beauty of city, there have been many other factors that have contributed to the destruction. The population of the city because of a lot of migration from the rural areas has almost touched about two million. More than three hundred thousand migratory laborers from Bihar, UP, Rajasthan and other states in India remain in the city for more than nine months of the year and some of them have made the city as their permanent abode. Then there are thousands of slum dwellers from outside the State who have set up their tented colonies on many open spaces available in the city. The concentration of army and paramilitary forces has increased manifold during the past two decades. Since no figures are available about the concentration of army and paramilitary forces according to conservative estimates their number is more than two hundred thousand which brings the total population of the city of Srinagar to about twenty five lakhs as against intake capacity of half- a million. There has been no improvement in infrastructure facilities commensurate   with the growth in population.  Srinagar, known as the city of elixir for its waters that were believed to be curative, is now thirsty for a droplet of pure water. More than ninety percent of the city has no sanitation facilities.  And even in some areas, drainage systems have got choked but for lack of the management. The city today does not have the bare minimum facilities that would genuinely declare it a city worth dwelling. The plan assistance provided to Srinagar city at the District Board meeting does not hold any promise of improving upon the existing civic and other facilities. The city of Srinagar cannot remain content with sops. Instead there is need to draft a comprehensive plan for the development.

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