Under the Srinagar Smart City Limited Project the developmental work of Jhelum River Front and Water Transport is in full swing. All major departments under this Smart City banner such as Floriculture, Urban and Social Forestry, Tourism, Handicrafts and Handlooms, and industry experts are cooperating to complete the project in a time bound and effective manner. Jhelum or Vitasta is a reflection of Kashmir’s essence, the sacred thread of Kashmiri cultural ethos for more than 2,500 years.
Earlier in the month Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha laid the foundation stone for Jhelum Riverfront development to be constructed on the lines of Sabarmati riverfront, turning its surroundings into ecologically sustainable leisure hubs. Vitasta being the Venice of the East in Srinagar will be exhibited as a central attraction according to the Master Plan 2035. Its historic 7 bridges and 26 ghats will be restored in the same faith as they used to be upheld during ancient times.
The ghats on both sides of riverbanks will allow smooth water and river cruise transport. A mechanical system will be placed at Chattabal to maintain the water level at all times. The ghats are being visualized as a meeting point for cultural and commercial activities. They will be architected for maximum public turnout with small shops, pop-up stores selling art and craft, chai and small delicacies, live music from local bands, and act as a hangout location for all ages.
To be raised at the cost of Rs 75 crore, the riverfront project is under the authority of Jal Shakti Department under the Srinagar Smart City project. The first phase foresees modern public utilities and architectural grandeur with maximum green spaces. The Lt Governor also called for rebuilding of Polo View Road as a pedestrian walkway to provide suitable shopping experience to the people, an activity estimated at Rs 5.3 crore. The area will facilitate seating spaces, retractable bollards for emergency services, illumination, surveillance, improved drainage, and Wifi zone.
The establishments in the surroundings will be raised in a manner conducive to the aesthetics of the riverfront. In the wave of this development the Nishat and Shalimar Bagh will also go through a series of visual changes with respect to pathways and footpath reconstruction, lighting of bridges and buildings, etc.
On this note, many Shahar-e-Khaas developmental projects are waiting in the pipeline, ready to be executed. The foremost priority is the restoration of water channels like the historical Doodh Ganga, famous in fables for its magical foamy white water. Then the upgradation of markets and streets, Nalamar Road, Brari Nambal, restoration of Shrines and religious spots, development of Yarikand Sarai, and conservation of Amar Niwas as museum. The project for ‘Adaptive Traffic Control System (ATCS)’ is estimated at Rs 12.76 crore. The Dal Lake cleaning, weeding, and sewage disposal project too will shortly begin once the city snow melts and is aimed to be resolved by June this year.
JKUT achieved a remarkable feat of entertaining 1,27,605 tourists in the single month of November 2021. The Tourism Department is seeing its best days in decades owing to these grand expansions in infrastructure and the stabilized political climate.
NHAI will be leading the project responsible for the integration of religious and heritage sites, historical and sacred sites, and the hotspots for craft and folk art which earned Srinagar City a spot in the UNESCO world creative cities network under the Craft and Folk Arts category. After this momentous achievement, the UT citizens have taken the collective responsibility of strengthening and reviving traditional handicrafts and handloom that are almost extinct. With Prime Minister’s various initiatives under the Naya Kashmir framework, free skill training, interest-free loans to entrepreneurs (especially women), and Self-Help Groups for such crafts have been set up, and are delivering above expectations.
The past years lacked a systematic effort to improve cities in JKUT and the Governor has decided to take the reins of such pending projects. The transformation in urban services, infrastructure, and improved urban governance will make the cities ecologically sustainable, economically productive, and socially equitable. Such physical and economic change of climate is sure to create favourable living and work conditions, and provide an opportune environment for businesses to flourish. In the Smart City Project, the residents have been involved to play a proactive role in participation of such urban rejuvenation programmes as they are the final receivers of the benefits. All the development work in the Srinagar City will be in the spirit of its culture and tradition, and its glorious past which has not seen the light of the day in the past 30 years.
The change of environment in the Valley can be witnessed today with the introduction of various technical interventions and focus on public service delivery by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. Heavy machines such as the Vehicle Mounted Manhole desilting Machine and snow clearance machines are lining up for citizens of Srinagar to combat harsh weather and root out any hiccups caused due to it. The new development projects are raised ground-up without relying on any previous infrastructure to ensure a strengthened core and sturdy roots. Modern art like graffiti in public spaces and wall paintings in celebration of ‘Azadi ki Amrit Mahotsav’ across the city is displaying the excitement of the new dawn upon Srinagar.
The Center is building a highly self-reliant model demanding responsibility and accountability from the people for employment and growth. The government is weeding out the weak-willed structures in the systems which have previously only obscured the perspectives of the citizens regarding growth and development. With an open-door policy on grievances and feedback, a transparent system of management is shaping up. In the two years since the bottlenecks of Article 370 were removed J&K is witnessing the break of the day.