The right connect
IN the Valley, among the development initiatives by the government, are always endeavours to connect the varied districts to the capital city of Srinagar. These road projects have been upgraded from time to time, from single to multiple lanes.
But when we look at the main road connecting the Budgam District with the urban Srinagar city centre, we find it lagging behind in many aspects as compared to the other roads connecting to Srinagar.
Budgam District is among the nearest to Srinagar in the central Kashmir area at a distance of mere 10-15 kms via Srinagar-Chaddora road and barely 20 kms through Hyderpora, Peer Bagh Budgam road. These are the two main roads connecting the Budgam District to Srinagar city areas. But when we look at the development and the infrastructure of these roads, we find them poorly underdeveloped and ill-maintained.
Budgam District was carved as a separate district out of the Srinagar district in 1970. With the passage of time, the district shaped its developmental policy on education, health care, and road development besides other public services. The development here is shaped by the representative leadership elected by a democratic process in assembly elections.
In Budgam District, the representative leadership was earlier by a former finance minister and a senior leader of National Conference representing the area multiple times in his elective time period. This was before the state of Jammu and Kashmir was made a union territory in 2019. During the previous political representation, the developmental process and policy execution with regards to different public centric initiatives like construction of roads, developing modernised healthcare system, widening of the existing roads and connectivity to match the current traffic movement, were not taken up seriously. During those years, opportunistic politics and approach were rampant. The policies served only vested interests without solving any problem for common citizens of the area. Since the representative leadership from different sectors was not working properly, there came about stagnation in the development scenario of the district. With corruption and favouritism visible on ground, accountability was missing.
Some of the locals share that the previous government was not up to the mark and had failed in developing the Budgam District as a model district as compared to Srinagar city. And then, they add, the road connectivity which should have been developed properly with the right infrastructure, is still missing despite the fact that they are only 15-20 kms from Srinagar. “If we look at the road infrastructural development of other districts and their connectivity with Srinagar, they are much better and developed. The need of the hour is to build a strong developmental policy to upgrade the roads and infrastructure in Budgam District. After all, it is a gateway to the Srinagar International Airport,” they add.
A social activist says that indeed the development of an area depends upon its representative voice but if this voice turns out to be corrupt, selective and opportunistic, the development process gets hampered. This is what happened to Budgam. There is a need for a holistic approach to development in Budgam to bring out a strong reformative change in the corrupted, manipulative system created by former cabinet ministers and babus. In this scenario, the main connectivity through roads from Budgam to Srinagar, needs prioritised upgradation and infrastructural development on modern lines.