Srinagar will develop 80 kilometres of walking space in an “unprecedented” development for any Indian city, besides introducing water transport and electric buses under the Smart Cities Mission, a top official said.
Cycling tracks, a robust sewerage system and an underground electricity network across the city are also being set up, Srinagar Smart City CEO Athar Aamir Khan said.
According to the plan, electricity poles through which power is supplied to domestic consumers will be replaced with smart distribution plugs in Srinagar.
Of the 125 projects under the Smart Cities Mission — one of the Narendra Modi government’s flagship programmes — 55, including redevelopment of the city’s famous Polo View Market, have been completed and the rest are planned to be executed by the year end.
Projects under the mission aim to transform Srinagar into a modern, sustainable and economically vibrant city with a dedicated focus on improving infrastructure and services and increasing mobility.
Khan said all the projects under the mission, being implemented by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, will strengthen urban infrastructure, improve city services, public aesthetics and ease of living and provide a clean and sustainable environment.
“We have plans to develop 80 kilometres of walking infrastructure in Srinagar, which is unprecedented for any city in the country. The city should be walkable and pedestrian-friendly and non-motorised infrastructure is of the highest priority,” he said.
The Srinagar authorities are also installing 1,500 smart CCTV cameras for multiple purposes. Of these, 500 cameras have already been installed, Khan said.
Talking about the redevelopment of the famous Polo View Market, executed at a cost of around Rs 10 crore, he said there was choas as nothing was in order earlier.
“We recently completed the redevelopment project of the Polo View Market under which it has now become a non-motorised and pedestrian-friendly zone,” the officer said.
Mohammad Yaseen, vice-president of the Polo View Market Association, said there has been a 20 per cent rise in footfall since the redevelopment.
“We are hoping that our business will also grow with the redevelopment of the market. The traders appreciate the Srinagar authorities’ efforts to redevelop the market,” Yaseen told PTI.
Khan said they are also procuring 100 electric buses and added it will be the first time that electric buses will be part of the public transport system.
“We are looking at how to have better public transport for the city. To begin with, we are procuring 100 electric buses, 25 of which will start operating by the end of July,” Khan added.
The Srinagar Smart City Limited aims for a comprehensive overhaul of the city’s urban infrastructure, making it resilient, safe, sustainable and significantly improving the quality of life of citizens.
Khan said the Srinagar authorities are also working on an integrated public transport system, describing it as the most efficient and equitable solution for urban mobility and climate change.
Public transport saves money, facilitates movement and, hence, increases opportunities and increases land value, he added.
According to officials, 17 ghats are being improved for dedicated boarding and alighting for water transport apart from redevelopment of 25 others as public spaces around the Jhelum river.
All these water transport ghats are designed on the principle of universal accessibility and have amenities such as public toilets and kiosks. The development of parks and community spaces along the ghats has been taken up as public spaces in the densely populated Shehr-e-Khas neighbourhood.
Last month, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry extended the deadline for the Smart Cities Mission till June 2024 following requests from some cities that sought more time to complete their ongoing projects.
The earlier deadline was June 2023.
The Modi government launched the Smart Cities Mission in June 2015 with 100 cities being selected for redevelopment through a two-stage competition from January 2016 to June 2018. (PTI)