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Srinagar is getting choked, expand it

12:00 AM Jun 01, 2024 IST | Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat
srinagar is getting choked  expand it

Traveling around Boulevard Road or other areas of Srinagar city is no-more refreshing as it used to be many years back. These days it’s simply frustrating. Traveling towards Nishat, Shalimar, Harwan or Dara from Lal Chowk is a painful task, especially in the evening hours. Even between 10 to 11 pm we see traffic jams on Boulevard Road, Nowpora, Khayam areas.


Even the city outskirts like Srinagar Chadoora road, Buchpora-Ganderbal road, Batmaloo Narbal road or Srinagar Pampore road are congested and traffic jams are witnessed daily. Gone are the days when one would enjoy traveling on Lal Chowk to Nishat-Shalimar road, Lal Chowk to Pampore, Lalchowk to Narbal or Lal Chowk to Chadoora.


I remember as a kid I would eagerly wait for Saturday to board a double-decker bus that would ply between Lal Chowk to Shalimar those days. From class 2nd to 6th especially, almost every weekend I would visit Shalimar, my maternal home (Matamaal) and board the double-decker bus; that too all alone.  These buses were operated by the erstwhile J&K State Road Transport Corporation -SRTC and used to be parked just outside my school in Lal Chowk -Tyndale Biscoe School. The journey in that bus until the late 1990’s was awesome, but now traveling on the same route is frustrating.


As per 2035 Srinagar Master Plan the total area limits of Greater Srinagar has been extended from 416 sq. km to 766 sq. km i.e., 84% increase from the 2021 Master Plan limits. The areas include Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Cantonment Board and four municipalities of Budgam, Ganderbal, Pampore, Khrew towns– notified as the Local Area Limits of Srinagar Development Authority-SDA. These areas and small towns and villages located between 10 to 15 kms from Srinagar city centre Lal Chowk have been designated as Srinagar Metropolitan Region or SMR.


In this connection J&K Government passed an act around 6 years back which is known as Jammu and Kashmir Metropolitan Region Development Authorities Act, 2018. Under this act two regional authorities are to be set up which will be known as Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Authority-SMRDA and Jammu Metropolitan Region Development Authority -JMRDA. These authorities have been set up in Srinagar and Jammu but that is mostly paperwork only.


No full time CEOs ?


There are no full time Chief Executive Officers-CEOs for both the metropolitan authorities and the charge is held by the Commissioner Secretary Housing and Urban Development Department -HUDD J&K Govt. The Srinagar office of SMRDA operates from the office of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir who is designated as Additional CEO. An Executive Engineer posted in Srinagar Municipal Corporation-SMC has been given additional charge of SMRA. There is one Chief Accounts Officer and few clerical staff.


As per the preamble of Jammu and Kashmir Metropolitan Region Development Authorities Act, 2018 this law has been enacted to provide for the establishment of Metropolitan Region Development Authorities, for the Metropolitan Regions of Jammu and Kashmir for the purposes of coordinating and supervising the proper, orderly and rapid development of the areas in such Regions and executing plans, projects and schemes for such development, and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

These authorities are supposed to work for infrastructural development outside the municipal limits as per the master plan. The Infrastructure Development Work as per this act means development of infrastructure such as roads, water supply systems and water treatment, sewerage systems, sewerage treatment and disposal, drainage, electricity transmission and distribution systems, solid waste management facility, metro railway systems, piped natural gas, communications or such other urban infrastructure which connects two or more sectors, municipal colonies or villages or which provides for the infrastructure needs of the region. The Metropolitan Region Development Authority shall be deemed to be a local authority within the meaning of the term “Local Authority” as defined in General Clauses Act 1897.

Residents Advisory Council

Under the provisions of this act a Residents Advisory Council-RAC has to be constituted to aid and advise the Metropolitan Region Development Authority so as to discharge its duties smoothly. The Residents Advisory Council shall consist of the Chief Executive Officer, who shall preside over the meetings of the council. This council will have the following members:

Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation concerned

Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of the districts falling in the Metropolitan Region

Director Urban Local Bodies of the respective division

Director Tourism of the respective division

Chief Engineers of Public Works Department, Public Health Engineering Department, Power Development Department and Urban Environment Engineering Department-UEED of the region

Such officers of the authority, not exceeding two, as the Chief Executive Officer may, from time to time, nominate and such persons, not less than six and not more than ten, being residents in the Metropolitan Region, to be nominated from resident welfare associations, civil society, labour, industry, real estate developers.

The Residents Advisory Council is supposed to aid and advise the Authority on the implementation of the annual plan of action for infrastructure development, mobility management plan and the plan for sustainable management of the urban environment and make appropriate such recommendations, as it may decide.

Powers and Functions of the Authority

The main objective of this act as per section 14 is to secure the development of the Metropolitan Region according to the Development Plan and for that purpose, the functions of the Authority is as under:

(i) To review any physical, financial and economic plan any project or scheme for development which may be proposed or may be in the course of execution or may be completed in the Metropolitan Region.

(iii) To formulate schemes for the development of the Metropolitan Region or any part thereof and to execute projects and schemes.

(v) To recommend to the Government any matter or proposal requiring action by the Government or any other authority for the overall development of the Metropolitan Region and to participate with any other authority for inter-regional development

(vii) To finance any project or scheme for the development of the Metropolitan Region and to coordinate execution of the projects or schemes for the development of the Metropolitan Region and to supervise or otherwise ensure adequate supervision over the planning and execution of any project or scheme, the expenses of which, in whole or in part, are to be met from the Metropolitan Region Development Fund.


The Srinagar city has to be extended at any cost now with proper amenities and through institutional support. No more hotels or guest houses are allowed to come up at least in district Srinagar especially within Srinagar Municipal Corporation limits.

It is better to create separate areas on highways for setting up new hotels and guest houses like Pampore, Narbal or on the proposed Srinagar Ring Road Galandar to Narbal via Chadoora-Budgam. Traveling in Srinagar city is frustrating. Only solution is that the Govt must develop city outskirts on modern lines. This is only possible when our Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Authority is operational.

Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat is an Acumen Fellow. He is Founder and Chairman J&K RTI Movement and Anant Fellow for Climate Action