Draft Master Plan 2035, envisions smart, sustainable and economically empowered growth of Srinagar. In an interview Chief Town Planner, Kashmir, Fayaz Ahmad Khan shares the vision of draft plan with GK Correspondent, Mukeet Akmali. Here are the excerpts.
Tell us about the Master Plan 2035?
Master Plans are vision documents; we have to plan for the future. Our focus for master plan 2035 was to ensure that all the basic requirements from economy to better facilities for citizens are addressed in the vision document. We have witnessed haphazard growth, conversion of residential areas into commercial in the past; due to fact master plans didn't address the issue of economy later, but this plan has addressed it all.
If businesses are coming up, it shows your economic potential. This Master Plan has tried to addressthis and facilitate the investment, by proposing zonal plans which would envision development as per the requirement and potential of that particular area.
There has been criticism about the draft Master Plan 2035 for not specifying land use. What is your take on it?
During last month, one-day public consultations were held in IEI, Sonwarbagh by Intach JK Chapter Srinagar, followed by some write ups in the local dailies. Subsequently, a brief Power Point Presentation (though frequently interrupted during session) was made by Chief Town planner and his Divisional Town Planner at IEI on 5th July, 2017 Master Plan is a synthesis evolved around the interplay of "thesis and anti-thesis". Therefore, criticism or dissent is the essence of a good Master Plan. However, criticism has to have some rationale and should not be for the heck of criticism which is highly uncalled for. This is against professional ethics and the spirit of dialogue or discourse, in some write-ups so called critics have raised apprehensions which are not only farcical but elusive also. It is really shocking to find the criticism of Master Plan 2000-2021 having been copied from the Master Plan 2035 and pasted verbatim against this. Some people have voiced their concern about the land use policy and administrative restructuring as proposed to the Master Plan.
How would you respond to critics?
As a response to critics and for the benefit of ordinary citizen, the Master Plan team feels the responsibility to deliberate upon the major highlights of the Draft Master plan so that a broad-based and comprehensive feedback is generated before finalizing the master plan. The DMP 2035 is a midterm review of master plan 2021 which was assigned to Town Planning Organization Kashmir in 2014 after disengaging the M/S SAI Consulting Pvt. Ltd. Ahmedabad – initially hired by SDA- for the revision of the Master Plan. The Draft Master Plan has been prepared after putting-up in depth efforts by a team of dedicated officers and technical experts for inclusive and sustainable growth of Srinagar city.
The master plan was put to a series of reviews before a panel of experts with subject specialization and vast field experience both within and outside India. In the Course of master plan preparation, a series of seminars, workshops and one-to-one discussions were held in and outside state wherein valuable technical inputs were fathered from a wide spectrum of experts which were used to define the methodology and contents for the revision of the Master Plan.
In the preparation of this Master Plan (i.e) Master Plan-2035 extensive, field surveys and interactions with stakeholders were conducted from time to time to ensure large scale public consultations. A series of one-to-one meetings with HODs of all departments were held in the office chambers of Divisional commissioner Kashmir and Deputy Commissioner Srinagar. Relevant reports were also collected for their perusal and use in the master plan. The department at its best kept a track of all important projects and
There has a criticism to the proposal of shifting of civil secretariat, Tyndale Biscoe School?
Yes, 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.
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.
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.
What is your plan for old city?
People living in old city are grabbling for space. Master Plan has proposed a number of things for the development of heritage city, which would not only bring it back on path of economic glory but also to a large extent address the problems of locals. We have proposed vertical development of the city to address its space shortage. Besides, Master Plan has also covered downtown under the Metro whose DPR is being developed.
What is the vision of Master Plan ?
The Revised Master Plan 2035 articulates a shared vision for the future of Srinagar city and recommends specific actions for achieving that vision. For a long term sustainable vision of Srinagar – Smart, sustainable and economically empowered growth- the city has been treated as a sustainable ecosystem offering vibrant and equitable setting where people can live, work and prosper with dignity.
The Draft Master Plan -2035 has been structured around sixteen broad sections besides a detailed development code which is based on individual zoning system as per development intensity and natural setting aiming at promoting the development rather than constricting it.
Among these sections, the core sections include the Urban governance and community development, Urban Mobility, Economic Development, Disaster Mitigation and Management, heritage conservation, ecology and Environment, Public Health and Urban Sanitation, Tourism and Culture, Urban Design etc.
The Underlying principle of Land use Policy adopted in the Master Plan is based on the preservation of Ecological resources, protection of agriculturally productive areas and leveraging targeted productive urban lands.
The three fold land use strategy has been arrived at after a structured scientific approach using land suitability and land potential analysis which inter alia included the multiple layered analysis in geographic information system.
The land use policy is also based on the availability of developable land ensuring long term sustenance of the city. The structured land suitability analysis was carried out by a method of successive elimination of critical areas like undevelopable slopes (≥ 30 percent), ecologically fragile areas, wetlands, waterbodies, forests, floating gardens etc. It also envisages densities and land use intensity based on zonal capacities to ensure a sustainable and smart growth of Srinagar Metro city.
The Srinagar Master Plan 2035 takes due cognizance of the fact that physical thresholds play a dominant role in shaping the urban structure of our city. The Master Plan acknowledges the existence of flood absorption basin(s) in and around city and water bodies in its east, west and South directions. It has also highlighted the vulnerabilities of city to other disasters like earthquakes and fires. In this connection, as separate section on " Disaster Mitigation and Management has been added to the Master Plan. The section articulates a way forward r the government in order to make Srinagar city resilient to such vulnerabilities.
How would Master Plan address the concerns of city planning after floods?
The Master Plan draws the broad contours of city's future planning and development strategy and consciously recognize the fact that wetlands, lakes, flood absorption basins, hills, forest, low-lying areas are integral components of its eco-system which have to be defining concerns of city's planning.
The Master Plan for the first time views Srinagar in its regional context, and accordingly highlights importance of comprehensive Regional Planning Strategy (RPS) for developing regional counter magnets and satellite townships to reduce impending urbanization pressure on mother city.