Jammu City- Apathy of Authorities

Rajan Gandhi
Jammu, popularly known as City of Temples was founded by Raja Jambu Lochan in the 14th BC on north side of River Tawi. Such is the foundation of secular credentials of this city that both Azaans and Bhajans are echoing in the vicinity of each other. Four historic symbols built under various rulers – Raghunath temple- Talab Khatikan Mosque- Church at Residency Road and Biwi Chand Kour Gurudwara add to serene beauty of the city. First railway line was laid between Jammu and Sialkot in the year  1897 AD which was discontinued after partition and the old railway station is now part of SRTC workshop and Kala Kendra.After partition Jammu had no rail links till year 1971 and in the year 1975 this present railway station was inaugurated. By just imagining trains coming till present Asia hotel one gets mesmerized, so what was Jammu City at that time and the answer is just till Gumat stairs and by evening gates at Gumat used to be closed to safeguard.People used to fetch water from Tawi along with washing clothes and taking bath. Mahraja Pratap Singh (1885 1925) contributed to the physical development of the city by constructing Tawi bridge, hospital schools and colleges, silk factory and dak bangalow at Residency Road . Ranbir Canal   a life line for agriculture of Jammu district, power house, a pumping station at River Tawi to supply piped water to the city and the Banihal road connecting Jammu with Srinagar were added subsequently. Later during Maharaja Hari Singh’s time Aerodrome, SMGHS Hospital and a reservoir at Parade were constructed.
City started its expansion in a bit planned manner and Rehari Colony was the first one to come up on planned pattern in those days. Gandhi Nagar colony came up in 1956-57. Gandhi Nagar is according to the overall Indian estimate one of the best residential colonies ever laid at that time . Modern Trikuta Nagar started on the map in the year 1978 along with coming up of Nanak Nagar and  later on Channi Himmat by J and K Housing Board. Subsequently Sainik Colony , Greater Kailash were added up in posh locality lists.Sidhra – Bhatindi too came up on this side of the city . On the other hand Janipur , New High Court Complex, Roop Nagar , Bantalab, Muthi , Barnai started developing and in present scenario Jammu is touching Vijaypur on this side and almost Akhnoor on the other along with Nagrota.    But barring a few localities like Gandhinagar , Channi Himmat, Sidhra- Tawi Vihar only, Roop Nagar which were conceptualized by  Government agencies all other came up haphazardly with minimum planning resulting in explosion of traffic , non availability of roads, water and electricity scarcity. Basic infrastructure of hospitals ,  sanitation , sewage system is still missing and every heavy downpour results in extensive damages to these localities and now a day’s even localities of Gandhi Nagar, Nanak Nagar which never witnessed flood like situation in the past have started feeling the pinch. The area of Science College , Jewel , Talab Tillo being lying low are bearing the brunt of nature and  hapless citizens wondering why this is happening quite frequently now.
Further adding to woes is complete lack of sanitation – no bins at any place throughout the markets, people and shopkeepers just throw every bit and pieces including polythene bags . By 10 o,clock when markets close one wonders whether it is a market or scrap yard . A visit to any of the markets, one is forced to wonder where are the drains? And the answer is drains have been encroached by shopkeepers with the result that with every heavy rainfall water enters residential or commercial areas.  Strict implementation of the rules and regulations by Jammu Municipality is required immediately to bell the cat . Time and again one hears proposal of shifting Sabzi Mandi from Parade and construction of parking along with commercial buildings but till date nothing concrete has happened. With the explosion of two wheelers – cars the markets of old city ,where one time City buses were plying through City Chowk, Kanak Mandi , Shaheedi Chowk ,Residency Road to Jewel  along with SRTC trucks supplying ration to depots of old city, find it difficult to walk even on foot during peak hours. Where has all the space gone and answer is simple in the absence of will power by administration bazaars have been encroached by shopkeepers and reharis. Footpaths have become extension counters with 6 to 8 feet extensions of shops can be observed at any bazaar of old city. The result of all this has resulted in no parking facility, customers have to walk on foot resulting in loss of business to main markets like Jain bazaar, Lakhdatta bazaar, Link Road , Pacca Danga, Ragunathh Bazar to name a few. With ever expanding business activities old shops have given way to multistory showrooms in the city itself fitted with numerous air conditioners required to cool the infrastructures resulting in  already crumbling Power transmission lines to give way to frequent power cuts sometimes hours together. Such is the planning of even PHE department that some of the water supply lines in the old city are of Maharajas time leading to rupture at various points causing contaminated water supply .
With changing scenario and passage of time focus of market shifted from city to Gandhi Nagar and one can find all leading shops Like Pahalwan’s, Monalisa, Mittal’s to name a few shifting to Gandhi Nagar . Thus once a beautiful -quite residential colony of Gandhi Nagar has been transformed to commercial hub of entire Jammu City and one can see it is also choked to its capacity during peak hours especially during festive season. With more and more houses being converted to commercial buildings Jammu Municipal Corporation mutely observes the development.Such is the morale of violators that Numerous coaching institutes Akash ,Phonex are on the main roads itself flouting every law prescribed by education department and moreover causing frequent jams as well as accidents. Further to boost the demand of ever increasing demands of commercial activities Narwal highway has become the latest trend with the advent of Wave Mall, lots of automobile showrooms have also come up . The only saving grace of this area is that it’s a National Highway maintained by NHAI and as such no encroachment has been observed till now.
During my recent visit to party of one of my friend’s to Colonel’s Farms at Bajalta one observes lots of constructions going on randomly and one wonders whether all the upcoming colonies are regulated by any Government agency or it is also part of unplanned , unauthorized list of colonies which are obviously stretching already meek resources of water , electricity, hospitals to name a few.With no access to telephone network and virtually impossible for already stretched Police force to keep an eye on nefarious activities of the miscreants and anti national elements which was observed even during Nagrota Army Camp terrorist attack. This is the most important part of any city development which we know by the name Town Planning and any visit to Chandigarh , Mohali , Panchcula ,Gurugram or Noida will just soothes one’s mind with aesthetically built houses , parks , schools , hospitals . But as they say Rome was not built in a day so is the case with these cities. A lot of efforts, meticulous planning from Architects, Power Department, PHE are required for successful development of any locality. One can see almost daily advertisements in all leading national newspapers from DDA, PUDA, HUDA, Greater Noida authorities for allotment of flats , commercial sites,schools, hospitals etc and all this leads us to wonder lack of such activities in Jammu. The only interpretation of non existence of Government approved areas can be lack of will power to fulfill the dreams of common masses of owning a well built home in a nice locality.
Another aspect of any well developed city is the disposal of garbage and the city of Jammu totally lacks any solution or vision to cater to this problem. A visit to any part of old city will lead one to choked drains , construction Malba lying at every nook or corner and one starts wondering where are the civic authorities. Is this Swach Bharat our PM is dreaming of and truth is that Jammu is one of the dirtiest in the recent list. An immediate intervention from higher authorities of Municipality is required .The condition of dumping ground near fourth Tawi Bridge speaks about the practical aspect of the scientific disposal of garbage and it seems Jammu people will still have to wait for that a long time . This dumping ground being near to Tawi river not only pollutes the river water but during rainy season even ground water is getting polluted and with the Company Bagh tube wells so close to dumping sites that an outbreak of epidemic in the old city where water is supplied from these tube wells is just a question of time as was recently observed in Shimla where outbreak of Jaundice led to nullah water which was polluting water reservoir. From old city to Akhnoor road sewage water is carried out by four to five main nallahs along with flood channels but due to lack of strict enforcement by Jammu municipality these are encroached at every nook and corner which results in flooding of houses at low lying areas with rain and sewage water.  Instead of Government thinking on terms of shifting of present Civil Secretariat to decongest City even new Legislative council building has come up using the parking space just outside Secretariat as such already bursting situation of traffic is further complicated in winters by Civil Secretariat as parking of VIP security vehicles is a problem which no Government has found any solution as  High Court has already banned the entry of any vehicle at Parade Ground. Hopefully multi level parking coming up in the area will bring much required relief to the old city but many more such facilities are required to cater the ever increasing demand of parking. Mushrooming of Banquet halls without parking lots is creating havoc and one wonders where are the law enforcing authorities .For any developed city Metro is the ultimate solution and city like Jammu badly needs one very soon. Though the initial investment is hefty but long term cost and benefits are numerous like smoke pollution and noise pollution   reduction. Another major area of concern is fly over projects of Janipur to Amphalla , Canal Road and Satwari crossing and one hopes these projects are cleared as early as possible as it takes years to construct these flyovers. Ask any commuter from Janipur and Talab tillo area about the pain of spending one hour in the morning and one in the evening to reach office and office to home. The successful experiment of permanent mid road dividers on Apsara road encourages one to request the Government to implement the same on Talab Tillo, Akhnoor Road as well as Janipur road immediately.  We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort by Government and public.