SRINAGAR: At a public consultation meet organised by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), the Srinagar Master Plan (2015-2035), prepared and recently made public by the government, was criticised for ignoring various elements deemed necessary for it.
The speakers, comprising former commissioners, senior government officials, journalists, columnists and members of civil society, critically analysed the draft of the formulated plan and asked the agency concerned to reassess it and include elements either left out or less focused-on, so as to make the plan better and more comprehensive.
While the speakers decried the draft planners’ shifting of the secretariat, which as per plan would be moved to the city outskirts in Pampore, many others called both the move as well as the entire plan politically motivated.
“The drainage planning, which is the biggest problem in Srinagar, has been given very little attention. They (the planners) should consult qualified, professional people for mapping and designing the city drainage system,” said convener INTACH, Kashmir chapter, M. Saleem Beg.
After a long wait, the draft Srinagar Master Plan (2015-2035) was placed in the public domain for 60 days last month to seek suggestions and objections to the plan before its being put before the state cabinet for final approval.
Officials from the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) have requested people to put forth their feedback regarding the draft plan and upload it on the SDA’s official web page.
The speakers said the draft plan has been ambiguous about land usage in the city. “It has not been clear about plans on urban land usage and about solid waste management, crises of which have been witnessed often. The planners should put forth their strategies, something missing in the current draft,” observed several speakers at the gathering.
Speakers also pointed out that the Master Plan was already virtually in force as the 20 years of the plan start from 2015, but officials are still intending to make changes to it. “As it’s a mammoth plan, aiming to include everything, it is better that the government set a time frame from 2021 to 2041 so that the Plan includes feedback from diverse sections,” suggested former bureaucrat Mohammad Shafi Pandit. Referring to the vast amount of land in the city under occupation of government forces, speakers at the meet said that Srinagar was probably the only district in all of Jammu and Kashmir where outsiders were welcomed by an army garrison.
Earlier, Beg made a PowerPoint presentation where he highlighted the draft plan’s main loopholes.
Speaking on the occasion, SDA vice chairman Tehseen Mustafa told the gathering that the plan’s current version was only a draft, which could be changed on the basis of public feedback and suggestions.