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Srinagar—a dying city

Editorial 1

Srinagar—the summer capital of the state—once known as the most beautiful place on earth for its landscape, fresh air and water bodies, spaciousness and cleanliness—now figures among world’s 15 most dirty cities (14 of them existing in India only). The World Health Organization (WHO) findings for 2016 place Srinagar at serial No 10 among 15 worst polluted cities. These findings are based on the quality of air and respirable suspended particulate matter in the air that enter lungs. The same year Santek Consultants Pvt. Ltd for Union Ministry for Tourism made startling revelations about the city. In a survey (2016), the agency found that the city was below mark in tourism related facilities as well. Gathering opinions from the visitors—both domestic as well foreign—the agency has found that besides the dirty surroundings, shortage of pure drinking water and power supply is also cause of worry for visitors. The findings are startling and speak volumes about our insensitivity towards our own surroundings. With heaps of garbage and filth choking roads, market places and streets bear witness to the fact of Srinagar being the dirtiest and most polluted place. Heaps of trash and garbage on roadsides, parks and streets is a common sight at every inch. The daily look of such nasty stuff has made us insensitive and makes no difference for us. The city 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. Police, municipal officials and other concerned government departments appear to have ganged together 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 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 LalChowk, the face of the city, is not without dogs. One finds dozens of stray dogs occupying LalChowk. The Chowk is filled with mounds of stinking garbage strewn in every nook and corner. The city outskirts are presenting more horrible picture. Dug up roads, overflowing drains, coverless manholes, and swarms of wild and vicious dogs prowling greet the residents everywhere. River Jehlum, once known for its pristine and fresh water has turned into a sewerage drain. Every drain of human waste flows into the river. Its stinking water is cause of many diseases among the people living on banks of the river. Take a look at Boulevard and Dal Lake. The Dal is virtually in its last throes of death. Various governments in the past and present have time and again claimed to work for restoration of the glory of the lake. Hundreds of crores of rupees are reported to have been spent on cleaning the lake but its deterioration could not be arrested. It is generally believed that the officials responsible for taking care of the Dal have siphoned off most of the funds listed for it. The departments concerned with the maintenance of the character of the city and keeping it clean are doing just the opposite. There is absolutely no accountability. There is a free for all prevalent everywhere. There is no co-ordination among various departments of the government. The only one thing where co-ordination and cooperation seems supreme is passing of underhand transactions.