Adeela Hameed

Idea of Srinagar as a Smart City

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Srinagar has been and is the jewel of the Valley in every respect. Right from the alleys of downtown to the majestic Dal Lake, the city is a marvel. To revamp and redecorate it with luxurious buildings and roadside parks would be a huge step towards beautifying the naturally beautiful. Developing Srinagar as a smart city would indeed be a wise and thoughtful move because of its natural tendency to allow the same. It needs concrete banks around rivers and lakes, maintenance of Mughal Gardens from Nehru Park to Harwan, spacious parking lots, durably macadamized roads, interconnectivity of roads and link roads, flyovers at appropriate locations to bypass excess traffic, efficient traffic regulation system, subways and overhead bridges near educational institutions, proper methods of collecting and disposing various kinds of waste materials generated throughout the commercial nerve of the city and stringiest road safety protocols to avoid accidents. This vision of Srinagar is the fundamental aspect that can help it go through regular transformations to being a smart city for real.

What makes Srinagar affordable as a smart city is the fact that it has connections to almost every other district and state within the confines of its transport compound. The city as such is a backbone of commercialization, of trade and travel and of various food habits. Pertinently, these act as the face of a well distributed city, both in terms of wealth and environment. Therefore, this is the USP of Srinagar.

Major loopholes that need a fix

  1. The public transportation system is not efficient enough to cater to passengers, old and young, alike. More than necessary persons are dragged in a single minibus.
  2. Sanitation in public lavatories is undependable.
  3. Roadside vending is frequent and a hassle too.
  4. Security for female passengers is lagging behind at present.
  5. Inefficient traffic regulators i.e. many places have malfunctioning traffic lights.
  6. Lackadaisical attitude towards building proper and safe roads leading to distress during winters.
  7. Disorganized bus stops leading to increase in traffic jams.
  8. Use of vehicles which are way past their expiration date for pollution checks.
  9. Unavailability of public transport after dusk.
  10. No parking space around the hub of major markets.
  11. Increased pollution in and around Dal Lake, Jhelum and other water bodies around the city due to presence of houseboats, sewage outlets, construction of hotels and houses on the banks and irresponsible attitude of citizens towards the cleanliness of the same.
  12. Encroachments along the water bodies, wetlands, tributaries etc.
  13. Insufficient knowledge about hygiene and public health among the people.

The idea of Srinagar being developed as a smart city must take into consideration the redressal of the above mentioned issues. It is imperative that we act on the prevailing problems first; then and only then can the future of the city be secured. The solutions are easy to adopt and adapt to. Whatever is lacking must be had and whatever is in excess must be curtailed. Although Srinagar bagged the slot in the top 50 cleanest cities in India, yet a lot has to be done on ground.

How can Srinagar arise as a smart city?

  1. Selfless action on part of SMC officials, workers and people alike to bring forth, report, indulge in the city and its restoration.
  2. Comprehensive, result-oriented, time-bound plans to rejuvenate all water bodies.
  3. Introducing and maintaining traffic lights at major and minor crossings.
  4. Dustbins around the corner for each kind of waste.
  5. Use of modernized, efficient, durable machinery and materials for constructing roads, flyovers, buildings etc. Proper cover provided over manholes.
  6. Safety and comfort of passengers by introducing eco-friendly buses and other transport for all destinations. Encouraging water transport in Jhelum.
  7. Undertaking the construction of parking lots in, around, and under every commercial complex or government building.
  8. Allotting transport even after twilight for areas with considerable number of passengers.
  9. Building parking lots for public transport to bay when off road.
  10. Making it mandatory for every vehicle to produce a pollution check certificate and to ensure that newly purchased private vehicles have a space to park at home.
  11. Reframing drainage system in Shehr-e-Khaas by covering all open drains.
  12. Providing adequate places for vendors and disallowing construction along, in and near all water bodies.
  13. Designating Shehr-e-Khaas as a site for heritage tourism.
  14. CCTV cameras should be installed along the main crossings, outside establishments and at police check posts to uncover any illegal activity.
  15. Introduction of strict safety protocols for underage children (below 18) driving either two-wheeler or four-wheeler.
  16. Development of sewage treatment plants and overseeing their utilization and working.
  17. Introducing trauma centers, nursing schools, health clinics, fire stations around the city so that everyone has access to these during emergencies.
  18. Going online and inviting complaints/advices/innovations from every citizen to make the city familiar.
  19. Grievance redressal system should be made duly functional in every department active in the city.
  20. Assembling recreation parks and health centers for children and adults.

Such a smart city encompasses every bit of necessity that a citizen requires for ease of travel, during emergencies or otherwise, during a shopping day out or for respite. This is an idea of Srinagar as a Smart City and can be equally well applied to any city in need of a long overdue makeover anywhere in India. In doing so we should involve work from all departments and public alike, evolve our cities to be efficient in disposition, thus gradually dissolving our worries and apprehensions about sustaining future lives.

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