Decay and Decline

Decay and Decline
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Srinagar city has, over time, morphed into a kind of an ugly urban sprawl. This is validated by its slide to 100th position(or scale) in the “ Ease of Living” index. Srinagar has been ranked as one of the most underprivileged cities in India, with no adequate facilities of water supply, solid waste management, parks, green spaces, cultural offerings, career opportunities, and economic dynamism. All this is as alarming as can be and points to one major thematic issue: Srinagar city is in the midst or process of decay or has already decayed. The reasons for the decay pertain to the nature of urbanization here , defined as it is by poorly and badly designed policies and execution thereof. This is one aspect to it. Other reasons include the politics of patronage, demographic growth that has vastly outstripped supply of infrastructure, both hard and soft, other assorted pressures and stress on the urban concatenation of Srinagar. While the list is not exhaustive, its indicative nature perhaps suffices to account for Srinagar city’s decay. The larger and nagging question is whether this decay is reversible or irreversible. The answer to this cannot be given with certainty but, if the decay is reversible then steps must be taken on an urgent and priority basis to reverse it. One major step would be an urban revamp which includes devising a transportation system that makes commute and travelling to, in and through the city easier. This could be followed by rejgging the extant urban dynamics where people are socialized into a system that is user friendly, environment and ecology friendly and which redounds to the welfare of the people. Third, Srinagar city must be made green again by taking steps which if not only salvage its pristine beauty but also enhance it. This might turn out to be easier said than done and would involve new and latest waste management techniques, awareness and education programs among people, and an aggressive tree plantation drive across the length and breadth of Srinagar city. Moreover, the expansion of the city must take within the limits of reason and in accord with the natural absorptive capacity of the city. Yet again, the list is not exhaustive; there’s more that can and should be done to make Srinagar city a model city which is eco friendly, user friendly and aesthetically elegant. There must and should be no delays regarding Srinagar city which , in the final analysis, among other things, is the face of Kashmir.

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