In a significant development, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Tuesday laid foundation of a Citizens’ Park at Tattoo Ground, which will be developed over 136 kanals of land with all modern facilities of recreation in one of the busiest business centres of the summer capital. For the first time, the Army has agreed to part with chunk of land for development of Citizens’ Park, a job entrusted to the Tourism Department. Besides Member Parliament, Mehbooba Mufti, Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Asiea Naqash, GoC, 15 Corps, Lt. Gen. S. K. Dua and Secretary Tourism, Farooq A. Shah were present on the occasion. Addressing an impressive gathering of people, the Chief Minister directed the Tourism Department to develop the park with all aesthetic features. He also thanked the Army for collaborating in setting up the park, which will provide avenues of recreation to a large number of people residing in one of the most densely-populated areas of the city. Describing smart cities as the ideal solution to the woes of rising population and lack of housing, Mufti Sayeed said he will vigorously pursue with the Central government the issue of sanctioning two Smart Cities for J&K. He highlighted the need to integrate core elements of city services to give our urban spaces a coordinated look. The Chief Minister also called for exploring a public-private interface where we can build new satellite townships for weaker sections of the society. “My wish is to develop satellite townships for those poor who cannot afford their own houses. I have seen four families living under single roof in unimaginable circumstances in downtown Srinagar,” he added. With rise in population of the two capital cities, he said development of satellite townships for low-income groups has become imperatively necessary. “With land as our equity, we would work out a modality to integrate satellite colonies into the Smart City Plan,” he added. Advising policy planners to firm up a model for setting up housing colonies in urban centres, the Chief Minister praised the Union government for sanctioning infrastructure in pairs to ensure equitable development of the state. “The Centre has been generous enough to sanction two AIIMS and two Central Universities. We expect to get two smart cities for J&K for Jammu and Srinagar,” he added. With J&K the only state in the country with two capital cities, the government has projected demand to Union Urban Development Ministry for sanction of two Smart Cities. Under the Smart City Initiative, the Centre plans to develop 100 cities for which Rs.100 crore will be spent in each city to improve urban infrastructure. Laying emphasis on decongesting the summer capital, the Chief Minister indicated his plan to widen Batmaloo-Narbal and Gupkar-Pampore-Gallandar roads on south-north axis. He also urged Border Roads Organization to expedite four-lanning of Srinagar-Uri Road on a fast-track basis. Describing as saddening the mad rush of vehicles on roads with little respect for traffic laws, Mufti Sayeed put his weight behind popularizing cycling amongst youth, particularly on Boulevard Road and tourist destinations of Pahalgam and Gulmarg. Mehbooba Mufti, in her address, said today’s joint initiative of the State government and the Army is a rejuvenation of the Healing Touch policy which was pioneered by Chief Minister during his first stint in 2002 and was greatly valued by the people of the State. She said the Army and other security forces are extending their full cooperation to the government in this new enterprise of hope which will go a long way in rebuilding the people’s trust in democratic institutions and processes. “Army and security forces have done a great job in creating a conducive atmosphere for revival of the democratic process in the State and it is for the State government now to carry forward the mission of rebuilding people’s trust in the democratic institutions,” she stated. Mehbooba said the people of J&K are the biggest stakeholders of peace and the democratic process and the government is showing through tangible actions the transformation of ground situation in the State. She also asked Secretary Tourism to develop the park on modern lines as the facility will be a boon to people who live in its proximity, having literally no facility for recreational activities. The Citizens’ Park will be set up with all modern facilities which include amusement and children’s aquatic game areas, walkways, food court and art gallery, library and coffee shop, herbal garden, parking bays and lawns and landscape area. Secretary Tourism, in his welcome address, said the demarcation of the Park has been completed and work on the boundary wall is presently on. Also present were Legislators, Noor Mohammad, Anjum Fazili, Saifuddin Bhat and Khursheed Alam, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon, DC Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Lone, Director Tourism, Kashmir, Mahmood Ahmad Shah, besides several senior officers from the Army.
2015 Kashmir Despatch