Omar Okay's Heritage Street For Old City

Omar Okay's Heritage Street For Old City

5 June 2012
Kashmir Observer


Srinagar: In a major decision to revamp Old Srinagar, the chief minister, Omar Abdullah, on Tuesday approved a comprehensive project aimed at accentuating its strong heritage aspects to exploit its tourist potential. According to an official spokesman, the project would start with a Rs 24 crore 2 km pedestrian Tourist Trail from Nawa Kadal to Chattabal to develop craft bazaars, retail outlets, refreshment kiosks, production centres and other facilities. The roadmap for the project has been prepared at the chief minister’s directions, and includes promotion of crafts clusters in 10 identified locations, the spokesman said, adding that the Tourist Trail could also feature battery operated vehicles “if found feasible.” At a presentation of the roadmap today, the chief minister also issued directions “for working out a strategy to develop housing colonies for people living in the congested areas of the old city,” or Shahr-e-Khaas, the resurrected name again in vogue for interior Srinagar. Minister for rural development, Ali Mohammad Sagar, political advisor to the chief minister, Devender Singh Rana, chief secretary, Madhav Lal, principal secretary planning, B. B. Vyas, various commissioner secretaries and senior officers were present in the meeting. According to the spokesman, Omar Abdullah said that the main objective of the new development concept translated into a holistic project for revitalization of Shahr-e-Khas is aimed at providing necessary succour to a large population of artisans by developing craft clusters, generating economic activities, encouraging tourist flow, developing palatable lung places and upgrading basic amenities alongwith beautification of the historic Srinagar city. The chief minister said that involvement of Tourism and Housing and Urban Development Departments should be factored in the overall roadmap aimed at comprehensive development of Shahr-e-Khas and the artisans here. He stressed on dovetailing the efforts to obtain effective and meaningful results within the fixed time frame. The new concept for construction of Heritage Craft Tourist Trail from Nawakadal to Cement Kadal (Chattabal) and construction of River Front Craft Plaza has been derived from the existing similar heritage sites established in Muscat (Oman), New York, China (Chengdu) and Sabermati (India). The project also involves upgradation of the street pavement, covring of drains, laying of sewer lines, underground electric cabling, development of litterbins at every 200 meters, solar street lights at every 200 meters, street furniture and signages, refreshment kiosks, public conveniences, diagnostic clinics and about half dozen ghats and access points to river Jhelum. The Chief Minister also received presentation pertaining to development of craft clusters in Jamia Masjid, Safakadal-Qamarwari, Idgah, Noorbagh, Chattabal, Soura, Zadibal, Boatpora,-Suhama and Kanchan Peerpora and directed for working out area and craft specific projects in these wards factoring in beautification, economic activities generation, heritage preservation and tourist attraction aspects adding that more areas of the old Srinagar city need to be incorporated in the overall development programme. Speaking in the meeting, Minister for Rural Development, Ali Mohammad Sagar while lauding the Chief Minister’s keenness for revitalization and beautification of old Srinagar city alongwith generating economic activities and tourist flow in this part, said that there is need to bring Habba Kadal, Chinkral Mohalla, Fateh Kadal, Khankhahi Mohalla, Bohri Kadal, Zaina Kadal, Maharaj Gunj, Hawal, Zadibal and other core areas of Shahr-e-Khas in the overall roadmap being prepared for the development of Shahr-e-Khas. The Chief Minister directed for incorporating all these areas in the main project adding that details for operationalizing various components of the project should be discussed with Housing and Tourism Departments to dovetail efforts. He also directed for factoring in Jammu and Kashmir Bank’s schemes for artisan development. The Minister for Rural Development also talked about the economic support to the large number of artisan families living in Srinagar city. He underlined the need for early finalization of the report by the Committee constituted by the Chief Minister under Chief Secretary on this subject. Earlier, Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal said that under the Chief Minister’s directives 4 initiatives of Installing Traffic Signals, Operationalizing Radio Taxies, Water Transport and Development of Artisan Clusters were given green signal for launching and considerable headway has been achieved on all these initiatives. He said while traffic signals have been introduced in Srinagar, radio taxi operation will start during this month and regular water transport from Panthachowk to Chattabal within some weeks. He said that 10 crafts of Papier-mache, Khatamband, Wood-carving, Pashmina, Crewel-embroidery, Copperware, Leather products, Kani-shawl, Sozni embroidery and Willow works alongwith areas mainly representing these crafts have been identified to be developed under the Development of Craft Clusters Programme in the city.