Srinagar: Who is responsible for installing streetlights in Srinagar’s downtown? No one apparently, as three utilities, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), the Power Development Department (PDD) and the Tourism department, are shifting responsibility from one to the other.
SMC Commissioner Riyaz Wani told Kashmir Reader that streetlight installation in Srinagar’s historic downtown comes under the tourism department.
Director Tourism department Mehmood Shah, however, said the SMC and PDD are responsible for installing and maintaining streetlights.
“Tourism department has nothing to do with it,” he said.
Similarly, PDD executive engineer Qazi Hashmat said the SMC is responsible for streetlights.
“Areas in old city are not in our domain,” he said.
This non-seriousness has almost triggered a sort of crisis in old city as lack of streetlights affects business as well as evening life and thoroughfare there. Travelling after dusk is also a problem for commuters as there is always a fear of street dogs attacking them.
According to president Shahr-e-Khaas Coordination Committee Bashir Kenu, “We lack every basic facility. Besides the government’s restrictions every now and then, this part of the city is being neglected in development,” he told Kashmir Reader at his shop in Zaina Kadal.
Kenu said traders in the Downtown are being neglected in favour of their counterparts in Srinagar’s nerve centre, Lal Chowk.
After sunset, the footfall of shoppers declines in the markets here, affecting business, he added.
During evening visits, Kashmir Reader found shuttered shops and empty roads, while the road leading to SKIMS and SMHS was deserted with no streetlights. The same was the case with other roads on Nallahmar, Khanyar, Babademb, Hawal and Zaina Kadal. At several places, locals said, they pooled in money and installed fluorescent lights on their own. At several spots such as Nowhatta, Rainawari and Nowpora, lights were installed, but the areas were facing outages that cut street lighting as well.
When asked about the situation, the PDD’s Qazi Hashmat confessed that street lights have to have essential power lines, but as of now only two areas, including MA Road and a few spots in Boulevard, have round-the-clock power supply.
“Ninety percent street lights in Srinagar are running on routine power supply,” he added.