Honourable Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development, Social Welfare, Health and Medical Education Madam Aasya Naqash Sahibah, Er. Khurshid Ahmad Ganai IAS Chief Information Commissioner J&K Govt., Mr. Fayaz Ahmad Khan CTP Kashmir, honored guests, Assalam-u-Alaikum.
We, professional engineers assembled here today are honored to have amongst us Madam Aasya Naqash Honble MOS for Housing & Urban Development, Social Welfare, Health & Medical Education as our Chief Guest, Er. Khurshid Ahmad Ganai IAS (Retd.) Chief Information Commissioner J&K Govt. as our Guest of Honor , Ar. Fayaz Ahmad Khan Chief Town Planner Kashmir on this historic occasion of the presentation of the Draft Master Plan 2015-2035, organized for the invitation of the comments/suggestions both in spoken words and/or in writing.
To begin with, I would like to quote about Kashmir by a Persian couplet by a poet:
در جستجو چون طوطی کردہ عالم را— مثل تو کس ندیدہ ونی از کسی شنیدہ
i.e. As I searched the entire world for my beloved, I could see or hear of no place like you.
Similarly Hazrat Shaikh Shahab-ud-din Suhrawardy (RA) said about eight centuries back:
کان الکشمیر لساکینھا —– جنات عدن ھی للمومنین
قد کتب اللہ علٰی بابھا —- داخلھا کان من الآمنین
i.e. Kashmir is for its residents, as the paradise is for the faithful. On its door is written, “He who enters it shall remain in peace and safety.”
If one enters the historic Khankah-i-Mualla, you will find this couplet inscribed on its entrance door centuries back.
Thus Kashmir was known as a place of peace and serenity. We know that all the development is subservient to peace. One of the main reasons of the haphazard development of the Srinagar city and the abuse of the former two master plans of the Srinagar city has been the frequent disturbances.
As we already know that the Town Planning Organization Kashmir has put the Draft Master Plan of Srinagar Metropolitan area in the public domain on 18th May 2017 and invited comments within two months from one and all among the citizens. Besides, the expansion of the city limits have been targeted from 416 sq. kms to 766 sq. kms. i.e. 84% increase and the population of Srinagar metropolitan Region has been indicated to be 3.4 million excluding the floating population.
Having put a constraint of two months for submission of suggestions by TPO, we are holding this second deliberation on the Master Plan-35 within a brief gap of 4 weeks only, to hit their fixed target.
We are thankful to INTACH Kashmir Chapter for presenting a summary of the said Draft Master Plan in this auditorium on 12th June 2010, which attracted an audience of high dignitaries presenting their suggestions. However there was general opinion that the soft/hard copy of the document was not made available to them for furnishing their detailed comments.
Hence it was felt that we should know the salient features of the Master Plan from its architect Mr. Fayaz Ahmad Khan CTP Kashmir and in this connection we must be highly thankful to Er. Khurshid Ahmad Ganai (IAS) Retd. Chief Information Commissioner J&K State, for taking keen interest in arranging this event.
We must also know that the present planning exercise is a great planning effort by TPO Kashmir for the city of Srinagar. The in-depth studies of various dimensions of urban development of the city speak greatly about the efforts gone into the formulation of the document. Now it is the duty of a conscious citizen to express and involve in the process of planning as envisaged in the Draft Master Plan. It is said that it is appropriate to strike the iron when it is hot than crying a horse at a later date. It is hoped that today’s exercise will go a long way in making positive contribution in rectifying our past mistakes and a strong Apex-body shall be nominated by the Govt. to monitor and ensure the implementation of the Master Plan, once it is finalized.
A word about the history of evolution of Cities and the city of Srinagar: Kashmir has the distinction of being the only place in the world that has a recorded chronological history for the past about 6ooo years.
The Settling of Man: Farming and the City
Over the first 2 million years of human history, our ancestors were entirely dependent upon nature’s whims for food. It is only within the last 10,000 years that they have settled down to farm the land and control their own food supply. The earliest settlements were farming villages. But as crop surplus grew and trade & industry thrived, the village became the organized city, crowded with specialist craftsmen, builders, carriers, sculptors, physicians, bureaucrats & priests.
The rise of Civilization:
Writing or town planning, monumental architecture or a legal code, sophisticated farming or the working of metals; the ancient cultures Mesopotamia, Peru, Babylon, Egypt, China, Minoan Crete, the Indus rose in a broad climatic band that favored the growth of crops.
The Oldest known City Mari:
The 7,000-year-old ancient city of Mari (known today as Tell Hariri) is one of the oldest known cities in the world, located on the west bank of the Euphrates River in what was once northern Mesopotamia (now eastern Syria). Thousands of years of erosion nearly wiped Mari from the pages of history, but it was rediscovered by a local Bedouin in the 1930s and since then has emerged from the sands following extensive excavations. It is now recognized as the oldest known planned city in the world, and a powerful center for trade, bronze smelting, and impressive technological and archaeological innovations.
The Indus: Ancient Town Planning
Ancient history of India reveals that long long ago; Indians knew the science of road construction.
The excavations/at Mohenjodaro and Harappa (Pakistan) have established that even in 3500 years BC, there was a well designed network of roads, and streets were paved at that time. These twin cities contained about 30,000 inhabitants each at their peak. Its towns were planned according to a rigorous rectangular grid system-even the bricks were made of uniform size. Particular care was taken over the water supply and the drainage and washing facilities. Houses often built two storey high, included bathrooms served by earthenware pipes. In some cases sit-down toilets were built, with sloping channels to drain in the street
Thus by 2500 BC, Cities were established in three major centres: the Nile Valley, Mesopotamia and the Indus Valley, with scattering of other cities across the intervening terrain.
Over the course of 2000 years from 3500 BC cities evolved in many different ways, reflecting the culture from which they emerged, outside pressures and the preoccupation of their rulers.
Our Srinagar city too has a long history of about 2000 years as traced from 3rd century BC to 21st century AD:
272 BC: King Asoka founded Sri Nagra at Purana Dishtina (Pandrethan)-old capital.
631 AD: King Parversena built Parverpora close to Koh-i-Maran on a higher ground.
725 AD: King Lalitaditya built Prihaspora 20 kms. away from Srinagar.
King Jahapida laid out the city of Jayapura
9th century AD: King Awantivarman founded the city of Awantipura. Suya Minister Engineer of Awantivarman drained Kashmir Valley.
These were followed by setting up capitals at Kaniskapura, Juskapura,Hushkapura
1128 AD: Zulchu Khan invaded Kashmir and burnt the city of Lalitaditya.
14th century AD: King Rinchan Shah (Sultan Sadr-ud-Din) built his city at Budhgair on the right bank of river Jhelum. Central Asian architecture was introduced by the Muslim missionaries.
1342-54 A.D.—Sultan Ala-ud-Din extended Rinchan’s city along right bank of river Jhelum and built a new town Ala-ud-Din pora—now covering Khankahi Mualla and Malik Angan.
1429-70 A.D.—King Zainul Abidin built his capital 3 Kms. away from the city on north side and named it Nav-Shahr (new town) and opened a navigable channel (Nalla Mar) between Dal and Anchar Lake and also built the first bridge on river Jhelum called Zaina Kadal leading to the expansion of the city on the left bank as well.
15th. Century—Muslim rulers added 5 more bridges on river Jhelum and named it as Shar-i-Kashmir.
1566-1752 A.D.—Mughals constructed mosques, gardens, a rampart/ fortification around central hillock of Kohi Maran, where King Akbar had built a township named Nagar-nagari.
1752-1829—In Afghan rule Amir Mohammad Khan (1770-76) built a fort named Shergarhi on left bank of river Jhelum and a bridge on river Jhelum called Amira Kadal.
1810 A.D.—A dominant fort was built by Atta Mohammad Khan on the top of the hillock Kohi Maran.
1819-46 A.D.—In 1835 in Sikh rule Mahan Singh constructed gurdawara Chatti Padshahi. A navigable flood spill channel—Tsunti Khul constructed from Ram Munshi Bagh to Basant Bagh and renamed the city as Srinagar.
1846-1947 A.D.—Dogra rulers selected Shergarhi as their palace but later on shifted to Lake Front and used the Shergarhi as secretariat.
2nd half of 19th century—devastating floods, fires, famines and earthquakes struck the city but restoration was made simultaneously.
1890’s—Residency established, new schools, 1st intermediate college (S.P. College) and Central Library opened and piped water supply to city started.
1921-31—A silk factory and Govt. Woollen mill, Banihal Cart Road connecting Jammu and Rawalpindi constructed. Barbar Shah Bridge constructed, Gupkar road widened, Boulevard on Dal fringe connecting city with Mughal gardens, housing colonies came up at Wazir Bagh, Ram Munshi Bagh, Karan Nagar, Amar Singh Degree College, and S.M.H.S. Hospital got established.
1947—Dogra rule ended.
1947-1999—Srinagar city recorded a faster growth, but in a most haphazard manner. Small housing colonies of Jawahir nagar, Balgarden, Nursingh ghar, Sutra Shahi, Batamaloo, Chanapora, Bemina, Lal Bazar, Buchpora etc., Construction of Kashmir University, Regional Engineering College, Medical College, New Secretariat building, a good no. of educational institutions, hospitals,3 no. stadiums, fruit mandi, industrial estates, HMT, Bemina Woollen Mills, National Highway by-pass (17) Kms. got constructed.
1947-2000 A.D.—There was a sizable increase in other physical and social infrastructure but not commensurate with the population growth in the city.
Srinagar Municipality was established in Dogra rule in 1886. In 1960 it covered an area of 28 Sq. Kms. in 2000 SMC consisted of 17 wards with 952 mohallas and/ or villages and covered an area of 177 sq. Kms.
The first ever comprehensive plan for ensuring its sustainable development is reported to have been undertaken during the reign of Maharaja Gulab Singh in the aftermath of devastating floods of 1902. After 1947, Srinagar has been growing very fast, mostly in a haphazard manner.
The 1st comprehensive Master Plan 1971-1991 was extended till 2000 and a new Master Plan for 2000-2021 was prepared by the SDA and approved by the Govt. for implementation. It was recommended that an Apex Agency headed by a Senior Officer be appointed for ensuring periodical review of the Master Plan, its implementation and achievements of targets, monitoring of urban growth and development, failing which this Master Plan will be another plan on the shelf and that proved to be right with the passage of time.
Now learning from the past mistakes, a new Draft Master Plan Srinagar Metropolitan Region-2035 is in our hands to be deliberated upon. It is hoped that the suggestions/opinions shall be taken on board and considered while finalizing the same and the plan shall be implemented in a time bound manner and not made to starve for want of funds and a strong political will needed for its time bound implementation with proper monitoring by an Apex body.
A word about Srinagar Development Authority:
The Srinagar Development Authority was constituted under section 3 of Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970, ( enforced in the whole of the State w.e.f. 31st October 1970 by Notification S.R.O 518 dated 31-10-1970), the Local Area delineated vide SRO 43 dated 2nd February 1971 for the purpose of this Act formed the area of jurisdiction of the Authority. First Master Plan of said the Local area was approved by Government and notified vide SRO 754 dated 22nd November 1976. The second Master Plan ( 2000 – 2021 ) has been presently under operation and implementation which stands approved by Govt. vide Cabinet Decision No. 11/1 dated 16-01-2003 and notified vide SRO-28 dated 30th and notified vide SRO-28 dated 30th January 2003. Now the present Draft Master Plan 2035 is the third statutory planning exercise carried out for Srinagar city in 45 years.
The objectives of the Authority is to promote and secure the development of the local area, according to plan and for that purpose the Authority has the power to acquire, hold, manage and dispose of land and other property, to carry out building, engineering and other operations, to execute works in connection with supply of water and electricity, disposal of sewerage and other services and amenities and generally to do anything necessary or expedient for purposes of such development and for purposes incidental thereto.
Lastly allow me to express gratitude to our honored distinguished guests Madam Asya Naqash Hon’ble MOS, Er. Khurshid Ahmad Ganai CIC, Mr. Fayaz Ahmad Khan CTP for their gracious participation in today’s deliberations.
I wish the event a great success besides request the audience to present their views freely both in words and writing as required by the authorities. Thank you.
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE (Chairman IEI J&K SC)