SRINAGAR: In what sounds like the pot calling the kettle black, the draft of the Srinagar master plan 2035 blames the two master plans that preceded it for the haphazard urbanisation plaguing the city.
The 1971-91 and 2001-21 master plans took a long view of developing the city’s housing, solid waste management, traffic regulation, etc, in a systematic manner. Both of them, according to the new draft, drove the city into a deeper mess.
“The 1970s plan did guide development but it was not in synergy with the landscape of the city. That plan was the replica of the Delhi master plan,” an official who has worked on the new master plan drafted at the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) told Kashmir Reader.
The draft of the new master plan says that the 19701-91 plan triggered growth mostly in the city’s low-lying areas, wetlands and flood absorption basins, causing drainage and groundwater problems.
“During this period (1971-91), unimaginable unplanned spread of the city took place. The institutions in place did nothing to mitigate it. When we studied the city for the new draft, there were more violations than development that we saw,” the official added.
“The master plan 1971-91 was more elaborate in understanding the city of Srinagar in comparison to the master plan 2000-21. However, both the plans failed to give Srinagar a safe direction,” says the draft. “The failure may also be attributed to the archaic institutional structure of the urban local bodies and the local authority—SMC and SDA—entrusted with the implementation of the Master Plans.”
For twelve years from 1989 to 2001 there was no master plan in place. The draft terms this period “a plan holiday” for a decade.
“The progress has been very dismal on ground not because of poor quality plans but due to absence of administrative zeal and lack of a strong political will,” reads the preface of the draft.
Srinagar city, which according to the draft is more than 2,500 years old, got its first comprehensive master plan during the reign of Maharaja Gulab Singh. Post 1947, it has been growing very fast, mostly in haphazard manner with insignificant contribution of planned housing colonies, the draft says.
Now, as the new draft suggests an overhauling of the city, it remains a big question how will the city itself move towards sustainable development, said the official who has contributed to the new draft.