SRINAGAR: Two top officials responsible for the planning of the Srinagar city, on Saturday admitted to the “loopholes” which led to city’s haphazard development.
Taking during a discussion on the Srinagar Master Plan at a local hotel, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) Commissioner Dr Shafaqat Khan said that ‘executive and bureaucracy have been complacent for their own interests to let the system down, and not the politicians who have been always blamed for it.”
Khan was responding to the questions about the failures responsible for haphazard planning of the city.
“SMC has dearth of effective man force. We have huge number of casual labors but they do not do much work. At somewhere, in a line some employees allow illegal construction but they don’t understand its repercussions. We need qualified people in SMC who can do it,” he said.
Chief Town Planner Fayaz Khan said that if SMC delivers effectively, “50 percent of the problems in the city will be over.”
He said that the city was dying because structures like Secretariat, Biscoe School and Government Press have given “less economic benefits to the state”.
“It is better to use them for wider economic benefits through Public Private Partnership (PPP),” he said.
“Biscoe School was shifted from old city to the present place because the space available there did not cater to the demand. Now from the many years, this school has not extended. The space meant for 2000 students are being used for 7000. We are not cattle,” he said.
He said that previous master plans have done “terrible wrongs”. “Laws were flouted. A master plan has to be revived after five years, it was never done. The fact is the city has gone planning in the opposite direction it was not meant to go.”
The draft of new 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 masterplan says that the 1970-91 plan triggered growth mostly in the city’s low-lying areas, wetlands and flood absorption basins, causing drainage and groundwater problems.