In its endeavor to improve aesthetic beauty of Downtown, state government has started the process to give facelift to heritage markets of Old City under the ambitious Smart City Project.
Shops in Downtown's traditional markets Maharaj Gunj, ZainaKadal and Bohri Kadal have been decked with bi-lingual and uniform signboards.On the rust-coloured reflective signboards, names of shops have been printed inUrdu and English. The signboards are informative with description of trade andmobile numbers of shopkeepers.
The signboards are part of Smart City Mission launched byMinistry of Urban Development (MoUD) Government of India. Under the project,cities are selected for Urban renewal and retrofitting to promote cities thatprovide core infrastructure.
"Under the pilot project, we have started installation ofuniform signboards at Maharaj Gunj, Bohri Kadal and Zaina Kadal," DeputyCommissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Chaudhary told Greater Kashmir.
Under the project, sunshades of shops in the historicmarkets of Downtown have also been remodeled with uniform green roof.
Dr Chaudhary, who is also Chief Executive Officer SrinagarSmart City Project, said the two-year project will be extended to other areasof Downtown.
Most of the shopkeepers of Downtown said the concept ofuniform signboards and remodeled sunshades have made the traditional marketsattractive. Downtown markets including Maharaj Gunj and Zaina Kadal, withmostly copper, cloth and spice and dry fruit sale outlets, are favorite hauntof foreign tourists.
"We welcome the initiative of authorities to give faceliftto Downtown which has been lagging behind on development front," said NazirAhmad Shah, Chairman Shaher-e-Khaas Traders Coordination Committee.
Ayaz Zahgeer, chief organiser Beopar Mandal Maharaj Gunjsaid authorities need to do more to improve basic facilities in Downtown.
"These signboards are helpful for tourists as they caneasily locate shops of their preference. We hail the move of districtadministration. However, there is dire need of mechanized parking at congestedMaharaj Gunj which is one of the oldest markets of Kashmir. We are ready tohelp authorities to get land for it,' Zahgeer said. "Under Smart CityProject, we also demand removal of encroachments around Budshah Tomb," headded.
Dr Chaudhary said Smart City Project maintained thatholistic development of Srinagar especially Downtown.
"We invite suggestions from general public and traders forgiving facelift to Downtown while conserving its heritage character andimproving basic facilities," he said.
Officials said under the Smart City Project work on variousfronts including installation of bio-toilets at major roads, construction ofparking spaces, conservation of existing shrines and temples, facaderestoration of heritage buildings and riverfront beautification was going on.
Srinagar Smart City project was approved in Round 3challenge held in April 2017. The project comprises Area Based Development withan estimated amount of Rs. 2869.24 crores and Pan city Solutions with anestimated cost of Rs. 765.03 crores respectively.
Srinagar Smart City Limited (SSCL), a Special PurposeVehicle (SPV) was created under Smart City Mission to transform Srinagar intoan eco-friendly, resilient and socio-economically vibrant city that celebratesits natural and cultural heritage.