A road full of promise

The International Sheikh-ul- Alam Airport is being revamped right now. But
along with this, the roads and areas around the airport need to be developed as a
business zone for economic benefits and tourist satisfaction.

Mir Tanveer

THE International Sheikh  -Ul- Alam airport is situated in one of the most incredibly
beautiful cities of the country – Srinagar. The airport was built more than 60 years
ago and has seen its bit of renovation in the past. The renovation incorporated the great extension of the runway, the building of a new terminal and aerobridges. Also, it
earned an international status in the year 2005. It airport connects many major cities
of the country. It also offers international flights and welcomes global travellers. It is a
major entrance point for all those entering the Valley.

In a recent move, the administration has taken varied initiatives to upgrade the
facilities at the airport. Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Vijay Kumar Bidhuri
(IAS), has said in a statement that for the sake of public convenience, parking facilities
on both sides of the Airport Road near Panchayat Bhawan will be made functional
on the recently retrieved encroached land. He says since Srinagar is set to host G-20, a
special focus is being placed on the beautification of the City and its facilities
and various projects have been taken up for the execution. Meanwhile, the administrative machinery has also been setting up more baggage and checking machines and introducing electric vehicles to ferry passengers to handle the increased footfall at the airport ahead of
the summit. Airport Director Kuldeep Singh informs that there will be no parking
charges for drop and go at the Srinagar airport. He adds that no one will be charged
without using parking space facilities. While the administration is taking developmental initiatives in context of the airport, there is a need for focus on developing the airport road and its vicinity areas as business zones. Presently, the business affairs or activities
along the Srinagar airport road and its nearby areas are minimal, while actually, this area can prove highly revenue and employment generating. So the government and policy makers need to develop a business-centric policy approach while interacting with different business communities. The administrative machinery needs to develop hotels, real estate,
shopping malls, modernised street shops and exhibition malls showcasing different handicrafts of Kashmir to attract tourists and travellers exploring the Valley.

Zones of entertainment can also be created in this area to enable tourists to have some
fun. Such initiatives will bring back the vibrancy and liveliness of the area after decades of
darkness and conflict that the Kashmir Valley has witnessed. And then, the business community of Kashmir would be empowered and be able to touch new heights in customer services and response. One of the shopkeepers running businesses along the airport road says the administration should focus on development of business affairs on the
road. He feels the government is still not prioritising these issues since they seem to
be obsessed about the development initiatives on the airport premises. He adds that were business to develop on the Srinagar airport road, it will generate employment for the Kashmiri youth reeling under unemployment.
Some senior citizens of the area reminisce that years ago, the situation in J&K was
quite different and this road was under a high sensitivity security concerned zone and
a strict vigil was maintained in the area without allowing any public marketing
zones. The main focus rested on maintaining law and order in the area. But
currently, the situation has changed in the Valley and there is peace and prosperity
everywhere with minimal violence. So amid the changing situations, the present
government needs to allow and develop new market zones in the area and its

vicinity so that revenue may be generated and other economic benefits may be
achieved. Even tourists feel the lack of marketing zones and other business activity centred
zones on this road as against other parts of the country. They hope that such a zone will
indeed be built here in the near future. And that will aid the tourists in varied ways.
Mir Hamid, a shopkeeper feels that this road could prove to be highly revenue
generating for shopkeepers if business activities were to be brought here. He
hopes to witness market development in this area in the days to come.
All this calls for the government to approach and bring multiple stakeholders
and civil society groups on a common platform to develop this zone into a highly
commercialised one.


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