Minister for Education, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari today stressed on preservation of Lal Chowk’s historic legacy by evolving a comprehensive redevelopment plan that is in sync with its heritage values.
The Minister made these remarks during a meeting convened to discuss urban renewal streetscape improvements in Lal Chowk.
The meeting was attended by Dr Farooq Ahmad Lone, DC Srinagar, Fayaz Ahmad Khan, Chief Town Planner, Joint Commissioner SMC, SSP Traffic, Conservation Architect Ms. Gurmeet S Rai and other senior officers from SDA and SMC.
Bukhari said Srinagar city is unfortunately riddled with a plethora of issues ranging from traffic and transportation to urban design and its aesthetics.
He emphasized on a comprehensive redevelopment plan that takes care of large scale public consultations besides focussing on urban design, aesthetics, skyline, convenience and safety.
During the meeting a number of conservation proposals for heritage conservation and streetscape improvements were discussed threadbare.
An elaborated discussion was held on traffic and transport management, preserving old heritage buildings and other related issues keeping in view the Master Plan for the Srinagar city.
A multimedia presentation was made by Ms Gurmeet S Rai about how the different countries worked on these conservation projects and achieved the positive results therein. She said that there is a need to involve people in taking any initiative regarding conservation program in any city.
The Minister asked her to make a formal proposal and a detailed presentation for the improvement in Lal Chowk which will be later presented before Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti who is keen on restoration of pristine glory of the Srinagar city.
Later, Bukhari chaired a separate meeting convened to discuss the retrofitting of heritage school buildings in Kashmir.
During the meeting a number of conservation proposals for heritage buildings housing schools in both urban and rural Kashmir were discussed threadbare.
The meeting was attended by DC Srinagar, Directors of School Education (Kashmir), RMSA, SSA, Additional Secretary School Education, Senior Professor of IIT Madras, Dr Arun Menon and conservation Architect Ms Gurmeet S Rai.
Two government schools one in Fateh Kadal in Srinagar and another in Kupwara which were already agreed to be undertaken as a pilot project where in Ms Gurmeet Rai was asked to make a proper proposal and the budget plan for the retrofitting of these two schools.
The National Centre for Safety of Heritage Structures (NCSHS) in IIT Madras, and department of civil engineering would be engaged in this project.
Bukhari asked the architects that these schools should set examples as for as the preservation of heritage is concerned and assured an extension in the project only after satisfactory results.
He said that the school conservation and retrofitting project would be the first project of its kind to develop retrofitting guidelines for Taq buildings in Kashmir.
It was informed that local technical institutions like NIT, Srinagar would also participate in this project. Traditional craftsmen would also be engaged in the process for mutual learning and integration of traditional knowledge system with modern scientific processes and knowhow in the valley.
It was informed that it is the process of making old and weak buildings safe from earthquake and other risks. “It is a scientifically proven way for saving old structures and traditional construction practices of the region,” observed Dr Menon.
Bukhari said that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has been supporting the rehabilitation of schools affected by the devastating 2014 floods, and is extending the efforts to improve school infrastructure housed in dilapidated buildings in downtown Srinagar and other parts of the valley.