Smart up, my City!

by Bisma Nazir 

Our cities, mainly Srinagar and Jammu, are in for a face-lift and upgradation at varied levels, as they feature among the cities being developed under the Smart City Mission.

BASHIR Badr had famously said once:
Hai ajeeb shehr ki zindagi,
na safar raha na qayaam hai,
kahin kaarobaar si dopahar,
kahin bad-mizaaj si sham hai

Well, we won’t say that these lines describe our cities here in the Valley but there is no denying that some of them can do very well with a brush up and
some facelift. And indeed, the good news is that Srinagar and Jammu are among the hundred cities across the country being developed along modern, scientific
lines under the Smart City Mission.


The Spruce-Up
In both Srinagar and Jammu, realignment of roads, sewerage and drainage system, walkways, the face- lifting of Jhelum and Tawi river fronts, development of heritage sites and face-lifting of old towns is going on in full swing. Srinagar Smart City Mission is a 930-crore integrated project that covers around 135-145 heads under 8 categories.
Srinagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Amir Athar speaks to Kashmir Central exclusively to give an overview of the mission. It merits a mention here that Amir is the nodal officer of the project, supervising all the departments and agencies engaged in the mission. Giving a detailed account of the work going on under the Smart City Mission, Amir says there are various projects being taken under the mission that actually hold the capacity to uplift and develop the city of Srinagar and its peripheries. He adds the upgradation of Polo View Market, redevelopment of Residency Road including construction of underground utility ducts, improvement and upgradation of Maulana Azad Road, upgradation of Ghanta Ghar, upgradation of Lal Chowk precinct, improvement and upgradation of Batamaloo Qamarwari Road, improvement and upgradation of Batamaloo Moominabad Road, façade illumination of important heritage buildings and shrines are the
main highlights of the Smart City Mission in the City centre.

Amir further adds there are more than 12 other projects being taken under the Smart City Mission with a focus on beautification of Jhelum River and Dal Lake. He says the projects along the Dal Lake and Jhelum River include redevelopment and beautification of Shalimar Canal and improvement of access to the Shalimar Gardens, development of the Lake Front along the northern Foreshore Road, from Nishat to Naseem Bagh including pedestrian
walk way, cycle track and viewing decks. There is a focus also on the upgradation and redevelopment of Nishat Sathu from Nishat to Dhol Dum including the cycle track, walk way and decks for angling, re- development of the cycle track along Chunti Canal
from Dal Gate Junction up to Badshah Bridge, improvement of access to Chumtikul by way of construction & retro-fitting of footbridges and viewing decks, a public bicycle sharing scheme, installation of cautionary signals, butterfly gantries, beautification of the Indira Gandhi Road including intersection, improvement and utility rationalisation, construction of a footpath from Dal Gate to Nishat on the RHS, improvement of Gupkar
Junction including approaches, redevelopment of Convent road along Jhelum riverfront, Jhelum Riverfront Development Phase-1 which includes beautification of Bund Road access, parks, Illumination, public amenities, social spaces and ghats and finally re-sectioning and slope improvement of River Jhelum for the development of the river front. Amir adds that MA and Residency roads are being developed in a way to bring uniformity in road
width with roadsides and walkways on the lines of modern scientific basics. He says that Lal Chowk is being developed as a Non Motorable Transport Zone (NMT) which could compete with any modern city across the world. He adds that electric cycles will be made available at various spots for the convenience of the general public along the pattern of the Delhi metro-station outer-parks. He says that underground utility ducts too are being developed
along MA and Residency roads to address the problem of water-logging and flashfloods.

  Smarter About Ecology
Amir says that the government is sensitive to the ecological fragility of Srinagar city and steps are being taken to preserve and protect its fragile ecology and environment. Under the Smart City Mission, the government is developing green patches along roadsides and walk ways, he says, adding that water bodies conservation projects are going on at Khushalsar, Ram Munshi Bagh, Badshah Bridge Crossing, Dal Gate and Shalimar to keep a
check on water pollution. He also adds that noise monitoring systems are being installed at important points to monitor the noise pollution. Amir informs that tenders were floated to procure 100 electric buses and that TATA Motors qualified the tendering process. The first batch of electric buses would be commissioned in the last week of March or first week of April, says Amir. These measures, he promises, are eco-friendly.

Quick &Convenient
With so much action and construction work going on, Amir says every effort is being made to avoid inconvenience to the common public. So, he says, men and machinery are being deployed day and night to complete the ongoing projects. “We didn’t suspend work even in the harshest winters,” he says, adding that most projects under the Smart City Mission would be completed by 2024 while some may take a little more time. But overall, the takeaway from this information is that our cities are in for a new, spruced up look that
will certainly be more inviting, convenience- oriented and yet, as interestingly beautiful as they always have been.

Allow us to sign this off with lines by Ahmad Mahfuz:
Suna hai shehr ka naqsha badal gaya Mahfuz,

to chal ke hum bhi zaraa apne ghar ko dekhte hain…


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