In occupied Kashmir, the indiscriminate dispersal of Indian military and paramilitary establishments in Srinagar poses major hurdle to development, as per the draft Master Plan (2015-2035).
According to media sources, the draft master plan, pointing out that more area is occupied by the military and paramilitary establishments than the area used for development of district, divisional and higher-level public and semi-public infrastructures, called for immediate shifting of the military and paramilitary establishments to peripheries. “As per the existing land use, the land under defense including many military and paramilitary establishments is spread over an area of 23 square kilometers which equals to 8 percent of the existing land area of Srinagar,” reads the draft, which had been put in public domain to seek suggestions before being put in the so-called Cabinet of the occupied territory for final approval.
It points out that the indiscriminate dispersal of defence establishments in every nook and corner of the city, including the civilian areas, is construed as a major impediment in city development, adding that if the guidelines of the Indian Defence Ministry are followed in future the situation will become more grim causing undesirable strain on urban infrastructure. The master plan suggests immediate consolidation and reorganization of defence establishments located deep inside civilian areas, important commercial areas, and public buildings by shifting them outside or to the periphery of the city. Pertinently, the new master plan aims to revitalize the in vogue 2001-21 master plan, which the authorities admitted has outlived its utility and has become irrelevant and non-responsive to ground realities of the city. The plan has also made recommendations keeping in view the smart city challenge for which Srinagar has already submitted a proposal. The stakeholders are now raising questions on the competence of Srinagar in the ‘smart city’ challenge as shifting of defence establishments seems unlikely.
Master plan also envisages as an immediate policy measure shifting of army establishments from Tatoo Ground, Alouchibagh and other civilian areas at the earliest. On the other hand, the puppet authorities have failed to evacuate hundreds of kanals of prime industrial land at Zainakote from the illegal occupation of Indian Central Reserve Police Force. Officials of industries department said that illegal occupation of HMT land by CRPF since 2010 was also hampering its development.