A town beset with woes

Ayodhya Nath Kerni
Udhampur is the third largest city after two capital cities of J&K State located at Lat 33.55 long 75.11 elev 2500. The population of entire district is   estimated  approximate six lakhs and the city more than one lakh. The city is famous for flowing of Devika, a holy stream and also called as Devak Nagri. There has been considerable increase in the population of the city for past few years owing to various factors such as inflow of village people by settling down permanently and even staying in rental houses mainly for the education purposes of their children. As the town is expanding, its civic amenities are also increasing. Presently, the town faces numerous problems which have to be addressed at the earliest.
Due to heavy increase in the number of vehicles particularly cars; the non availability of parking space is the glaring problem of the city. The multi storey parking is required to be constructed  at different points in order to avoid long snails of traffic. The general bus stand is also not spacious and needs shifted some where on National Highway as in the case of most of the cities through out the country. The internal roads are also required to be upgraded. The road leading to railway station is extensively damaged and immediate repair is necessitated. Some portion falling between Saken Bauli and Sangoor village needs to be aligned de  novo  due to steep gradient. The lanes and drains of city are also awaiting attention.
Devika stream flows through the western  part of the city. Owing to heavy constructions on the banks of Devika, all drains, nullahs and other wastes of the city are discharged into it without any treatment. Other non biodegradable wastes of all hues are thrown into the stream making it filth ridden. Despite provision of protection walls on both the banks, heaps of debris is dumped into stream. Throwing of filth and debris in to stream must be stopped to maintain the sanctity of the stream. The number of drains, nullahs that are pouring filth of the area starting from Housing Colony to city into Devika are causing a severe threat to the sanctity of divine steam. Awareness among the residents of Udhampur needs to be raised in this regard. The measures like avoiding to throw house hold waste has to be adopted. The stream at present is waterless and there is no source of supply to the stream. The existing polluted water seen at
Devika ghat is the out come of wastage. In case the polluted water is diverted from beneath the Taxi stand by creating a separate small channel to other side of Devika ghat and only rain water is allowed to flow through ghat area, the sanctity shall be  maintained. The dug wells are required to be created at Devika ghat and the bottom of concreted kunds has to be removed. There are possibilities of finding new natural aquifers. This way clean water could be provided to many devotees coming to Devika ghat particularly on festivals. The devotees can have the dip of such sacred water. Valuable suggestions from general public would also be useful in this regard. Arrangements made in the past have not been proved useful.  It is brought out by the aged people that previously natural water was available at  Devika ghat. Presently also there are bowlies on both the  banks of Devika ghat hinting towards the ground water table. The digging of bore wells may bring good results and water could be stored in kunds  to bring the pristine glory of the past.
As far as beautification of parks is concerned, barring few parks in Housing Colony there is only park called as Bhagat Singh Park located in the heart of city. This park also needs maintenance and guard to keep up the cleanliness. The parks in Housing Colony also need maintenance. An adequate electrification is needed in all the parks. The existing fountain in Bhagat Singh Park  needs to be set right and more modern decors may be provided. Some dust bins are provided by the Municipality but number needs to be increased. The steps must be taken to raise the consciousness among people not to throw garbage outside and make the proper use of Dust Bins. Municipal Council may make the arrangement to clear the dust bins in time so that they may not over flow with garbage.
There is a tranquil hill called Gangera located adjacent to Housing Colony blessed with all the natural bounties and dwelling on a panoramic location. The hill is set in scintillating beauty of cheer trees. The bridle path rather a road if provided from two points viz a viz Housing Colony and Jakheni may facilitate the considerable number of citizens going for a walk. The tourism potential has to be exploited and infrastructure created with expertise advice at such sites. Timely maintenance and repairs are required to be carried out in existing stadium.  The stray animals must be stopped entering the market area with a view to keep the area clean. The plantation drive be taken up vigorously and due care for the growth be undertaken with the help and co-operation of the locals. Ornamental plants be given preference.
The heritage spots may be highlighted to boost up the tourism in the district. A tourist guide map should be displayed at the railway station citing the spots like Sudhmahadev, Mantalai, Krimachi temples, Devika Shiva temple and the like. This may help to divert heavy number of visitors coming to Mata Vaishnoo Devi to visit these spots. Advertisements in leading   news papers may be given.
Ajaz Sumberia, an eminent social activist states that there must be some improvement in providing Healthcare facilities in District Hospital Udhampur. The number of staff may be increased equally with a will and favorable attitude to be created towards patients. The institution may not function as merely a referring authority only. To promote Swachh Bharat Abhiyan it is imperative that more toilets are provided in Hospital for patients and attendants. He further suggests that more subjects may be taught in Satellite Campus of Jammu University functioning at Udhampur. As regards to the employment avenues for local youths are concerned the opportunities may be afforded in private sector such as  big  construction companies engaged in construction work of roads, tunnels etc.
Lekh Raj Sharma, a senior citizen is of the view that J&K SRTC  buses may be provided from railway station/bus stand Udhampur to heritage sites such as Shiv Khori, Patnitop, Sudhmahadev, Mantalai, Mansar and back. The transport system from railway station Udhampur to city be strengthened . Hemkund Express may be extended to run from Udhampur to facilitate large number of devotees visiting Hardwar. In view of increase in traffic over head bridges and flyovers may be constructed at busy points.
Rajguru a social worker is of the  opinion that articles displayed by the shopkeepers on the periphery of Gole Market should be banned. The foot path is almost covered by hanging of articles. This results in inconvenience to walk over the constructed path and one has to move on road which obstructs vehicular traffic also. He also stresses the need to make the best use of dust bins and garbage which  may not be thrown in drains as it causes blockage and over flow particularly during rainy season. He further reiterates that selling of substandard items like eatables and fruits etc should be stopped by enforcing frequent checking and inspections by the concerned. The sanctity of Devika may be maintained.
Bharat Chowdhary  a shopkeeper Main Bazaar states that there is non availability of  parking space and vehicles are parked haphazardly. The parking should be constructed keeping in view the increased traffic and future requirement. Encroachments at Lambi Gali and Main Bazar need to be removed. Both way traffic be allowed in Main Bazar as single way traffic is adversely affecting the business. In view of prevailing situation it is felt that identity of outsider vendors like kulcha sellers etc must be established. As far as possible locals be permitted to sell such like items. To strengthen the security arrangements of the city  the verification of tenants may be carried out before allowing a house to let.