Urban Maze

Urban Maze
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Urbanization in Kashmir was, has and is a mess. The nature of this mess is exceedingly difficult to untangle. An example might illustrate the point. Walk through the city centre, Lal Chowk, especially the Residency Road side of the centre and it almost amounts to walking through a maze. Unless and until, a pedestrian is careful and negotiates the wares that shopkeepers (or some of them) have placed on the pavements, the other assorted obstacles, he or she is likely to trip over and injure himself or herself. The same holds true for the traffic mess which is also a function of the increase in the density and volume of traffic against the backdrop of the road and other infrastructure that has remained static. Overlaying this urban maze and jungle are the jumble of street vendors that are ubiquitous across the length and breadth of the city. This is not to suggest that street vendors should become invisible and be forced off the streets. No. Not at all. Either an alternative livelihood mechanism or spaces for them where they can conduct their small or micro business must be found for them. Now, returning to the theme of a cluttered maze that is our city centre, the problem , to an extent, also emanates from encroachments , the misuse of pavements and streets , bad parking and overall inefficient use of space. Since drastic urban redesign of Lal Chowk and its environs falls in the domain of the improbable or even impossible, the obvious solution to declutter the city that stares us in the face is managing efficiently and effectively urban spaces. For starters, encroachment on and of public spaces must be made difficult, if not impossible. There should and must be no latitude for encroachment of any kind and sort. Pavements , alleys and alleyways must be declogged and freed from impediments and obstacles. For vehicular traffic, there should and must be designated paid parking spaces and those found in breach of these must be made to pay a price, so that they do not repeat it in the future. The list delineated here is not exhaustive. It is in the nature of an effective starting point to manage effectively and efficiently our urban spaces for the benefit of the people. If things are allowed to carry on as they are, then our urban mess will gradually and inexorably turn into a jungle that will not yield itself to any remedy.