Editorial: Smart City dream

Srinagar, the summer Capital of Jammu and Kashmir is always in the news, albeit for wrong reasons. The city remains one of the talking points for one or the other deficiency it faces on the development front.

Many plans and dreams about making Srinagar City as a development model made headlines after the City fell to the deluge in September 2014. The slogans grew even shriller after the Prime Minister Narinder Modi announced his dream of kick starting the smart city project across India.

The plan was to identify cities in different States that meet the criterion fixed for turning an identified city into a Smart City. We understand that under this scheme, once cities are identified in accordance with the criterion laid down, experts will work out the plan of providing such facilities and amenities to the city so as to make it worthy of being considered a Smart City.

In simpler language it means developing its infrastructure in a manner that all modern requirements are met and all facilities are provided to the inhabitants of the city. This is no small a programme.

However, the efforts by the State administration in getting the twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar into the list of final smart cities seems to have failed miserably. The administration, it is believed had recommended four places to the Centre for including them to be converted into Smart Cities. Srinagar and Anantnag in Kashmir Valley and Jammu and Katra in Jammu region have been earmarked for the big change.

Although Anantnag and Katra do not fulfill the criterion of having at least one lakh inhabitants, yet the issue of including the two cities in the programme by making relaxation in the rules was taken up with some senior officials in the Union Housing and urban development Ministry. The basis on which relaxation is demanded seems very cogent. Both are pilgrims’ cities, Katra for pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi and Anantnag for pilgrimage to Amarnath.

What we have been made to understand is that so far the Union government has not taken any final call on this issue. However, this should not have deterred the local administration here to shelve all plans of development vis-à-vis developing the cities of Jammu and Srinagar on scientific lines.

Let us presume that both the cities are not included in the smart city list. What then should have been the response of the local administration towards the developmental needs of these two cities?

Srinagar, city we can say with authority has been left out of the developmental sphere s no town planning projects have been finalised over the past three years to get the city out of the morass it is faced with.

The city is juggling to come out of the issues that were confronting it over the past decade. Bad drainage, ill-conceived roads and bridges, no traffic decongestion programme and above all no plans to bring any major change in the facilities that are otherwise made available to the urban residents elsewhere.

Just two days back the high court snubbed the administration for haphazard planning and an ambitious project of the government was shelved by the court ruling.

Can’t the residents here dream of a modern city with wide streets, wide and beautiful pavements, parks, parking lots over-ground as well as underground, highly regulated traffic, play grounds, community centres, wide spacious and clean hospitals, efficient power supply system and hundreds of other things.

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