Smart city omission: what Srinagar city needs

Srinagar has been omitted from the “smart city” list. The omission is not curious. It is along expected lines. Our city would not merit attention and would not be important in the political and economic calculus of powers that be. Moreover, there was no great “pregnant expectation” in Kashmir about Srinagar not being included in the Smart City list. So no great expectations were dashed. Smart cities are essentially cities wherein Information , Communication and Technology(ICT’s) are central to and embedded in the cities functioning, design , administration and running. Given the abysmal nature of all these, it would have been a tad rich for Srinagar city to be part of the smart city paradigm. But this resignation to not being a “smart city” does not mean that Srinagar city does not need a total and complete makeover.

Srinagar city is an historic state. It is our major and central urban space and the focal point of all Kashmir. But, alas, Srinagar city, if not dying is certainly decaying. There is neither an old world charm to the city nor a “new world” feel to it. Cluttered urban spaces, decaying infrastructure , poor municipal services and transportation infrastructure defines it.  Irrational space alignment, urban and city, plus demographic pressures are gradually and inexorably ruining our city scapes. It is this historic  urban centre and cityscape that needs to be reclaimed and both pristine glory and modern facades implanted on the city. And it is to this that we as a community must dedicate our efforts to.

This does not mean decimating and destroying the existing structural features and aspects of the city but using these ass a base to build afresh and make our historic city reclaim its status and make it both aesthetically pleasing and functional. It is said a city is as good as its transportation infrastructure and systems(s). A rational and functional redesign of the our city’s transportation infrastructure and system would be a good starting point. This could followed by an urban rejigg that takes into consideration all systemic and functional aspects of a city. Modern templates from the West could be used and then grafted onto here keeping in view the cultural and social sensibilities and needs of the people. But utmost care must be taken not to destroy legacy and heritage features of our

Cities such as Srinagar are not only urban foci but also the “face” of a particular region. Our city then needs both a facelift and a complete makeover. It is towards this that we must dedicate our political, community and social energies to. Top down policy approaches should be eschewed in favor of a stakeholder approach wherein inputs should b sought from all and nds of stakholdrs must assum priority. A good starting point may b  “collctiv action’ or a bottoms up approach to galavaniz policy and political action. It is to this goal that our collctiv nrgis must b dvotd to rathr than a vagu yarning for an improbabl goal.

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