Once called Sun city

Srinagar is now caught in utter darkness!

Once a splendid city, lying on the banks of river Jhelum Srinagar city was known for its beautiful gardens, rich culture, distinctive architecture and clarity in almost all fields of life. This city has a long history; some historians have documented it as Surya Nagar meaning ‘Sun City’ and others mentioned a lot about its proper planned habitation and wealth. Anyways, past is past, let us find what is in store for present day Srinagar and its dwellers. In twentieth century, when much of the world on developmental front has changed for the best and most of the cities have improved considerably, Srinagar seems to have changed for the worst. 2014 floods exposed the infrastructural capabilities of Srinagar and preparedness of its managers. It was only the mercy of Almighty that saved Srinagar residents.

The biggest bottleneck in proper development of Srinagar as a credible city is its flawed planning. During the last two decades Srinagar has grown manifolds in all directions violating existing civic and land use norms and rules. Mushrooming growth of unplanned and unauthorized colonies has ruined beautiful topographic features within and in the vicinity of Srinagar city. Once known for its beautiful gardens on the banks of its lakes and water bodies Srinagar city is now left with few gardens due to encroachments and flawed planning. Water basins in the south of city that would earlier accommodate excess runoff waters and help in recharging the ground water are shrinking because of administrative apathy and our greed. Foothills of zabarwan range are fast turning into concrete slums, not only chocking the Dal Lake but hampering recharging of the Lake.

Flawed planning, mushrooming unplanned growth and violation of all existing rules by one and all have brought Srinagar to a situation of collapse and confusion. We have many issues in Srinagar, but at present what brings the city to verge of collapse are its imperfect civic system and flawed traffic management. While administration is working against all odds to develop the infrastructure and other basic facilities within the city, but on the civic front and traffic management it has failed miserably. This city has been virtually left to dogs. Garbage and waste management in almost all parts of city have failed. Encroachments, violation of building norms and unauthorized constructions is common and quite visible within the city municipal limits. Most of the shopping and other commercial buildings lack parking facility and other safety measures and our civic authorities are least bothered or turn their face away from such glaring violations, obviously against consideration. Major part of drains and minor sewerage lines managed by Srinagar civic authorities are in bad shape and clogged due to defective waste management procedures. No doubt residents of this city are equally responsible in failing civic facilities. But the local body armed with sweeping powers to mend the behavior of city dwellers are least concerned to set the system in order. The biggest menace on civic front and overall administration of city is encroachment of roads and walkways by pavement dwellers and this contributes considerably in traffic mess as well. These pavement dwellers in almost all leading city roads and city centers are passed on as no one’s responsibility and are ruling our roads with impunity.

The other mess that is giving a bad name to this once beautiful and calm city is its traffic disorder. Earlier traffic mess was visible only at peak hours and during summers. But now this traffic terror has practically crippled this city. We were made to believe that everything will change for better with widening of existing roads and proper traffic management. However even after chipping a major part of pedestrian facilities and making that part of road widening strategy, construction of new roads and engaging a fleet of toeing vehicles for enforcing law it has gone worst. Long traffic jams for hours together; road rage, fatal accidents are very common sites on Srinagar city roads.
Let us be frank and try to understand that proper traffic management is something beyond routine policing. A proper and comprehensive traffic management strategy requires services of town planners, engineering experts, and traffic police, and in a unique place like Kashmir psychologists as well. Alas! The founders of this city will be feeling bad about present confusing state of this city.