‘Traditional Aesthetics Destroyed’: Mehbooba Mufti Criticises Jammu And Kashmir’s ‘Smart City Project’

Jammu and Kashmir: Former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti while criticising the implementation of Smart City project said ‘traditional and heritage style of architecture and planning is being replaced by hideous tiles seen in public toilets’.

Mehbooba Mufti at PDP meeting

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti on Tuesday criticised Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha-led administration for “destroying” capital city Srinagar’s “traditional aesthetics”. 

The J&K administration is currently busy in Srinagar city’s makeover ahead of G20 working group meeting to be held in May in which around 50 delegates are expected to participate. The administration is making advance arrangements by repairing major roads, drainage system, passing directions for beautification, plants for parks and wall paintings. 

G20 meeting in Kashmir assumes significance since it is the first major event of international repute to be held in the region post 5 August 2019 when J&K’s special status was abrogated and subsequently was downgraded and divided into two Union Territories. 

Currently, massive construction and excavation spree is going around in Srinagar city, which is resulting in massive traffic disruptions, while many shop keepers around commercial hub Lal Chowk are complaining about loss in business due to the mega project. 

Jammu and Kashmir administration says through its Srinagar Smart City project it “aspires to leverage its natural and cultural heritage/tourism, through innovative and inclusive solutions, enhance the quality of life for its citizens”.

Under the Smart City project, the adminstration has announced to consider projects including Jhelum Water Front Development and Water Transport, Urban Mobility, Street and Intersection Development, City Beautification & Urban Art, Green Srinagar, Heritage Conservation and Downtown Renewal, Information technology, central business district upgradation, solid waste management.

The adminstration has also claimed that out of 137 projects under smart city project, it has completed 66 projects while work is ongoing on 71 projects.

However, former Jammu and Kashmir CM Mufti seems aghast over Smart City project implementation in Srinagar.

Mufti while terming the work on ongoing project as “tacky” said it is a result of “distasteful planning”.

“Excavating half of Srinagar for a ‘Smart City’ by reducing motorable roads to increase pedestrian paths isn’t just causing harrowing inconvenience. It also comes at the cost of aesthetics,” said Mufti.

She also accused administration of destroying “traditional aesthetics”.

“Traditional and heritage style of architecture and planning is being replaced by hideous tiles seen in public toilets. Sad to see beautiful divarstones demolished to make way for tacky & distasteful planning. Urban landscaping can be done without destroying our traditional aesthetics,” said Mufti.

Mufti’s criticism of J&K adminstration on Smart City project generated a lot of debate on social media with journalist Swati Chaturvedi saying: “Honestly the current dispensation both in Srinagar & Delhi has awful aesthetics. Every thing must look like a gaudy Gujarati marriage hall.”

Journalist Umer Beigh from Srinagar also commented on Mufti’s post, saying: “Who puts a load of concrete on The Bund's pathway? They could have managed the grass, plants each year by hiring baghwans, sweepers, and necessary equipments. This was so easily managable, had they given this takecaring role of a selected path to shopkeepers & masjid committees?”

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