While draft Master Plan 2035's proposal to shift Civil Secretariat, Tyndale Biscoe school has come under sharp criticism, the chief town planner, Kashmir, Fayaz Ahmad Khan, maintains that the proposal is in "best interest for economic vibrancy and decongestion of commercial hub Lal Chowk."
"There is no denying that the proposals aimed at shifting of Secretariat to Nowgam and Biscoe School from Lal Chowk to Lal Mandi across Jhelum have been in news for some time. These two proposals have been intentionally stretched too far to brush aside the good work done." Khan told Greater Kashmir in an interview.
"The Master Plan envisions the existing Pantha Chowk Parimpora Bypass corridor as the potential administrative axis and accordingly proposed shifting of secretariat along this axis. The proposal has many advantages to its one singular disadvantages as apprehended by some people," he said.
"A trade-off has to be made as a land use change of this scale can easily be designed to meet vulnerabilities of the area. Similarly, Biscoe School as has been proposed to be shifted to Lal Mandi across Jhelum will benefit the institution in the long run," he said.
Regarding the congestion in city, Khan said that the Master Plan has envisioned the expansion of city limits will be expanded by 340 sq kilometers. At present the city limits stand at 416 sq km and with the new addition the city will expand up to 756 sq km.
"Moving away from past practice this Master Plan has laid stress on vertical growth whereby we have created different building zones which will be developed as per potential and existing capacities of that particular areas," he said adding that Master Plan should act as driver for economic growth, which would ensure better facilities and avenues for the people.
Khan said on this pattern, Master Plan has proposed creation of Zonal Plans, which means that sector like health, education, would be developed by facilitating investors as per the requirements. 'Government would ensure right of way in this projects. This would give impetus to our economy and will stop flight of capital," he said.
He said that it is believed with a fair degree of confidence that the Master Plan 2035- will provide a new direction and horizon to Srinagar provided the proposals and policies envisaged are implemented with some seriousness.
"In this context government has the primary responsibility to ensure that the Master Plan proposals are implemented in letter and spirit by all line departments. The Master plan needs robust institutional mechanism, citizen engagement and periodic review of its implementation," he added.