Beautiful posters are up across Srinagar as large-scale construction activities dig the roads and pavements, disrupting everyday traffic in the Jammu and Kashmir capital.
The construction activities are part of Srinagar’s facelift ahead of a G-20 working group meeting expected to take place in the city in May. However, traders of Srinagar are complaining that 70 per cent of their businesses have been affected due to these major facelift projects.
Under innovative smart city project, extensive construction is going on at around 100 sites in Srinagar and the government intends to complete some of these projects before a working group meeting of tourism delegates of G-20 nations. India is hosting the G-20 Summit later this year. Prior to the leaders’ summit, meetings of officials and delegations are taking place across the country.
The meeting in Srinagar also assumes significance as it is taking place after the abrogation of Article 370.
Officials say construction activities in Srinagar would complete in April. They insist obstructions caused by construction work are temporary.
“Our aim is that we should complete these projects in Lal Chowk and other areas in April. It is a temporary inconvenience. We did not stop the work even in the winter,” Srinagar Municipal Commissioner Athar Aamir Khan.
As the government faced criticism for “narrowing the roads and widening footpaths” all across Srinagar, Khan argues that the work on roads and pavements in the city is being carried out under Indian Road Congress Standards.
“Uniformity is necessary for roads. No road should be wide in some places and narrow in other places. That is what is being done. We are making roads uniform. Wherever we get excessive space on the roads, we turn those spaces into on-the-spot parking slots. All the projects have been well-designed. In some places, footpaths were so high it was difficult to step on them. A footpath should not be above six inches from the road. That is what we are doing,” said Khan.
The government is widening the footpath along Dal Lake saying it will allow people huge space to walk and even sit to have a clearer view of the lake.
The traders say they have appealed to the government to expedite construction work.
“We are on the verge of closing our shops and are not so optimistic about the revival of the business as no one can reach our shops,” says a spokesman of the Joint Traders Association.