Srinagar: A Squalid City

Srinagar: A Squalid City

Cities are the face(s) of places and essentially reflect the overall tenor and tone of a given place. This point pertains not only to aesthetics but also the nature of urbanization, public health and hygiene. By these parameters, where does our very own Srinagar City stand?  Abysmally decrepit is the answer –especially and more so, if rankings of the city are taken into consideration. The decrepit state of Srinagar City is appalling by any measure or standard but assumes more salience given that Kashmir is a tourist destination. The city is squalid, crowded and the nature of its design does not do justice to anyone- be these business establishments, commuters, pedestrians and vehicular traffic. Given the state of the city, it is a free for all place which operates by sheer force of momentum and not by design.  Overlaying the condition of city is the state or status of roadside vendors. By their very nature, cities are a magnet for people. This makes them a draw for small businesses including vendors. Aesthetically speaking, there should be no roadside vendors in the heart of cities but solely using the yardstick of aesthetics and ease of commute is cruel. Road side vendors have to make a living and earn their livelihood to survive. They cannot be viewed as a blemish or a scar and then made to disappear.  How then can Srinagar city be beautified and made livable considering the multiple needs of the city’s users- especially vendors? Cities do not need to be static and inelastic entities; they can be flexible and extensible- especially because cities act like a sponge for people. One rather broad and generic method that can be applicable to Srinagar city is to rejig its design and nature by building upon its extant state. The nature of this redesign must correspond to the needs of the multifarious users of the city. This approach will naturally warrant the support of the people (users of the city). A stakeholder approach to design, create and maintain the city wherein the inputs and participation of the people would be the sine qua non of this approach is a prudent and good starting point. Top down approaches solely designed by technocrats are a thing of the past. Peoples’ or stakeholder input and participation is key nowadays. Once this paradigm is instituted it could be followed by foreign expertise to translate the concept and the design into reality. This is a broad and a generic plan which can take some time.  Till then, small but beautiful steps can be taken to improve and improvise upon the existing condition. These would include proper maintenance, cleaning and smart and deft management of the city. No excuses can or should be offered as excuses for these prosaic and doable steps.

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One Response to "Srinagar: A Squalid City"

  1. ABC   May 6, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    To redesign Srinagar is not viable with it huge population. It should have a twin modern city like Rawalpindi has Islamabad. The latter should be essentially a tourist attraction which Srinagar can no more be. The access to the new city should be limited and its population growth should be controlled.

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