A Concrete Jungle

A Concrete Jungle
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A walk through any metropolis of the world would reveal the obvious: how much care, diligence and hard work go onto maintaining and even developing a green cover in these cities. Even Dubai, essentially in the nature of an oasis in the desert can boast of having a stupendous green cover. But, alas, the same cannot be said of Srinagar city anymore. Our once beautiful city and its surrounding areas have, over time, morphed into an urban sprawl and are defined by decay. This constitutes a travesty for manifold reasons. First, a city, as both a construct and a real entity, needs to breathe. Second, any given city is the face of a place. (The same axiomatically holds true for Srinagar). Third, is the reason which flows from the second, cities should and must be aesthetic , beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Fourth, a dense, urban and concrete concatenation poses rather insuperable public health and hygiene issues. Fifth, cities are historical entities which must be preserved for all their pristine glory. While the list of reasons delineated here is not exhaustive, but Srinagar city fails on all these. Add demographic pressures into the equation and the picture, present and future, that emerges is as insalubrious as can be. Where the question is does the problem emanate from? Bad policy, poor urban planning and design, corruption, patronage politics and a general lackadaisical approach by both the administration and the people is the answer. Can the problem be remedied and Srinagar city rendered verdant and vibrant again? A qualified yes is the answer. Our city can be revitalized by a prudent and vigorous policy push whose first prong must be to make it green again( under the given constraints). This green push must be followed an urban design that feeds from and incorporates the present nature of the city and peoples’ needs. A vigorous and well designed transportation system should be the natural concomitant of these measures. Last, but perhaps most important, people must take ownership of Srinagar city and consider it as their limb. That is, harm to it must be felt as harm to our limbs. At this point in time, perhaps only a salvage job can be done given the damage that we have done to our city. But, this salvage job can constitute a useful and an important starting point for a total , comprehensive and much needed revamp of our historic city.