As the BJP’s mandate for 5-year rules is concluding in next five months, the party’s smart cities promise for Jammu and Srinagar—the capital cities of Jammu and Kashmir—is still at the under-consideration stage. There is not even a modicum of movement on this front so far. There is no official word as when the work on making these cities “smart” would begin. In all probabilities, it appears a forgotten promise. In 2016, the central government declared that, both, Jammu and Srinagar included in the list of 100 smart cities that BJP had promised to develop during general election campaign in 2014. The Smart Cities would have automatic traffic signal, better public transport facility, quick accident relief, smart traffic system, data centre, face identification system to catch criminals, control room for crime, health, services and traffic for better coordination to provide quick help to the people besides series of other facilities for which several millions would be spent by the Central Government. Now have a look at Srinagar—the face of Kashmir. It is turning uglier with each passing day. Mounds of stinking garbage strewn in every nook and corner, Dug up roads, overflowing drains, coverless manholes, and swarms of wild and vicious dogs prowling everywhere is a common sight in Srinagar. The famous River Jhelum is like a sewerage drain of all the towns, cities and villages on its banks. Presently, Srinagar is considered as the dirtiest and the most polluted city in India.
In May this year, an international survey on the health of cities showed Srinagar 10th most polluted city in the world. The findings are startling and speak volumes about decaying health of Srinagar. Dirty surroundings, heaps of garbage, dug-up roads and streets, packs of dogs roaming in city chowks make a horrible look of the city. The daily look of such nasty stuff has made us insensitive and makes no difference for us. The city, once known for its spaciousness and cleanliness, has turned into a congested dirty place not fit for human living. The encroachment by greedy people with complete connivance of concerned officials has choked the roads and streets causing trouble even for pedestrians to walk about. The footpaths have been occupied by shopkeepers and street vendors forcing pedestrians to walk through the middle of roads enhancing the dangers of accidents. The officials responsible for keeping the footpaths clean and clear appear to have submitted to the will of street vendors and shopkeepers against monetary considerations. It looks as if these have been rented out to the occupiers. Inspector General of Police (Traffic) Basanat Rath’s campaign for traffic regularization died down within days it was started in May when the state administration moved from Jammu to Srinagar. There was some visible change on roads with regard to traffic management. But the situation is back to square one again as the police is little more seen now managing the traffic. The prominent city intersections like Lal Chowk, Jahangir Chowk, Hari Singh High Street, TRC chowk, Exhibition and Naz Chowk present a grim scenario. The situation is no different at other city spots. It looks as if the authorities concerned with maintaining the city have ganged up to destroy the city.
Srinagar Municipality has been making hue of shortage of manpower. This is only a ruse being used for not doing the duty. The Municipality staff is found cleaning the roads and streets which are being travelled only by senior state officials and VVIPs. What further mutilates the city is presence of street dogs. No lane, by-lane or street in the city could be found without dogs. Even Lal Chowk, the face of the city, is not without dogs. One finds dozens of stray dogs occupying Lal Chowk. The city outskirts are presenting more horrible picture. The famous Dal Lak is virtually on the last throes of death. Its area is squeezing and water stinking. There is urgency of sorts to arrest this increasing rot. The people in power are well aware of the deteriorating state of the city. They need to wake up to their responsibility.