Land under government forces ‘major impediment in city’s development’: Srinagar Master Plan report

Land under government forces ‘major impediment in city’s development’: Srinagar Master Plan report

SRINAGAR: So much of Srinagar – “every nook and corner” – has been occupied by the military and paramilitary establishment that little land is left for infrastructure and development projects, says the Srinagar Metropolitan Plan (SMP) 2035 report, the city’s “master plan” that has recently been approved by the state administrative council (SAC) headed by Governor SP Malik.
“The indiscriminate dispersal of defence establishments in every nook and corner of the city including the civilian areas is construed as a major impediment in city development,” reads the SMP 2035 report.
According to the report, the city’s land used for defence purposes spreads over 23 sq km, which constitutes nearly 8 percent of the total Srinagar area. The report says “defence” is a non-urban use, which if not shifted, at least needs to be consolidated at select locations in the periphery of the city.
“The widespread existence of military and paramilitary establishments across Srinagar has actually surpassed its area under public infrastructure. The statistics reveal that there is more area occupied by defence use than the area used for the development of district, divisional and state-level public and semi-public infrastructure,” the report reads.
“As such, it is strongly recommended that the existing defence establishments need to be consolidated or re-organised by shifting such establishments located deep inside civilian areas, important commercial areas, public buildings, etc,” it says.
“As an immediate policy measure, the army establishments at Tatoo Ground, Alouchibagh and civilian areas need to be shifted at the earliest,” it recommends.
The late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, former chief minister of J&K, had laid many deadlines for the shifting of the army establishment at Tatoo ground, which was agreed to by the defence establishments as well. The cleared ground was imagined as a “Citizens’ Park”, and even the foundation of it was laid in 2015 after making the army agree to vacating 136 kanals of land. Despite this, the army establishment was not shifted.
With the passage of more than three years since then, there seems to have been no headway made yet on reclaiming for the city this vast and prime land.