Old town Baramulla struggling for space
As per the project, three roads were likely to be constructed at Tawheed Gunj, Banglowbagh and at Iqbal Colony, Baramulla.Special arrangement

Old town Baramulla struggling for space

Govt’s decongestion plan fails to take off

Baramulla: Over two decades have passed since the State administration decided to decongest old town Baramulla owing to its congested infrastructure, choked lanes and bylanes. However, except for relocating a few structures, the project could not take off.

Announced with great zeal and enthusiasm, the pilot project was aimed to decongest the densely-populated old town Baramulla where congested infrastructure is considered a big hurdle in the development of the area.

Besides, it also poses hurdles in case of a natural calamity.

As per the project, several residential houses, besides scores of shops were supposed to be shifted from the area so that it could pave way for broader roads and de-congestion of the area.

As per the project, three roads were likely to be constructed at Tawheed Gunj, Banglowbagh and at Iqbal Colony, Baramulla.

As the project remained in freeze for several years, the authorities after strong resentment from the residents identified a few residential houses at Kakarhamam Baramulla for relocation.

The affected families were given compensation as per the norms.

However, even after relocating several residential houses, there was no headway in the project, which disappointed the locals here.

“As part of the de-congestion project, few identified houses were relocated, more than six years ago. They were paid due compensation, however, there was no forward movement after that,” said Manzoor Ahmad of Mohalla Jalal Sahab Baramulla.

As per the official statement, the estimated cost of the project was Rs 25 crore, which was prepared by the authorities at the initial stage.

As per the project plan, besides relocating residential houses and shopkeepers, a shopping complex was to be constructed where affected shopkeepers would have been accommodated.

However, after several years, the locals here believe that the project has been either shelved by the authorities or kept in abeyance.

“Around two decades have passed since the project was started. What happened to the project is not known. The residents of old town Baramulla after years of wait feel that they have been deceived once again,” said Muhammad Shafi of Kakarhamam Baramulla.

The project, if completed, would have been a serious attempt to facelift the area and been a key initiative in changing the lives of the residents.

The need for the de-congestion of the old town was part of the ‘Greater Baramulla’ programme.

The demand for de-congestion of the old town Baramulla gained momentum after the 2005 earthquake which inflicted damage to scores of residential houses across north Kashmir.

“The main objective was to ensure that people of the area had all such facilities available which a modern residential area had. Like, in case of some natural calamity, the fire service or the ambulance should be able to reach the affected area. Besides, people who had been living a slum-like life had the opportunity to make their life better. However, due to the lack of serious approach, the project could not take off,” said Muhammad Shaban, a civil society member from old town Baramulla.

Additional Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Muhammad Ehsan said that after the 2019 Reorganisation Act certain laws had changed which include the land acquisition.

“As per the new laws, the land cost has increased which means the project needs certain modification. We will soon revisit the project and restart it again,” he said.

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