We'll Develop Srinagar As World Class Tourist Destination: Sajad Lone

11 December 2014
Kashmir Reader

Srinagar: Peoples Conference chairman Sajjad Gani Lone Thursday unveiled the party's vision for Srinagar City. In a statement, Lone said the PC would ensure Srinagar is declared a smart city and massive investments are made to upgrade tourism and public infrastructure. 'We will develop Srinagar as a world class tourist destination,' Lone said, adding the PC would facilitate and incentivize tourism and other entrepreneurial activities which generate jobs. The PC chairman called for evolving a transparent process for evaluation of losses and rehabilitation of the flood victims in consultation with local masjid or mohalla committees. 'We will ensure that losses are compensated fully, 'Lone said, adding 'We resolve to pursue the central government and ensure that rehabilitation of flood victims goes into a pro-active mode'. Sajad said there is dire need for scrapping current master plan and bring in a new, futuristic master plan in tune with today's demands and needs which would be scripted by leading experts in the field of urban planning. 'At the macro level the new master plan needs to focus on developing a world class tourism and public infrastructure. At the micro level, the master plan needs to be based on ward wise planning. There has to be an optimum trade-off between space allocated for residential areas and space allocated for commercial activities,' Lone said. Sajad also promised creation of a business district across a Travel Trade Tourism Corridor. 'Srinagar is the focal point of the state's economy and has to be able to generate lakhs of jobs and also be able to physically accommodate them. Government to act as an enabler and liberalize laws to facilitate the private sector in creating such an infrastructure,' he said Lone also called for scrapping out-dated and ineffective laws governing the green belt which has failed to stop the Dal from shrinking and has given birth to a mafia which favours the rich and famous and punishes the poor indigenous people. 'There is need of a new set of laws based on scientific reasoning and rights of the indigenous people. Denial to build by law would have to be compensated under law,' he said. Sajjad assured decentralization and deregulation of the Srinagar Municipality and SDA. Both the bodies will be re-oriented from demolition to development, he said, adding, Building permissions especially residential permissions will be decentralised and issued at the ward level within one week. The PC's vision for Srinagar seeks relocation and liberation of picturesque spots from government occupation. 'Almost all the beautiful spots in Srinagar which have the potential for tourism and can generate employment are under the occupation of political and bureaucratic elite. The army of bungalows which houses these elite need to be shifted to the outskirts of the city. The existing buildings can be leased out to meritorious young men to develop as lodges, hotels and guest houses. Areas like the Gupkar road and Church Lane road could be made into an exclusive hotel and tourist zone,' he said. The PC's vision document for Srinagar seeks quotas for economically weaker sections. The party said the old city could be preserved and developed as a tourist attraction and showcases our heritage.