Master Plan proposes alignment of tourist infra to save urban city design

Dachigam sanctuary, Hokersar, Anchar to be developed under Eco-Tourism
Irfan Tramboo
Srinagar, Sept 3: As Srinagar witnesses an increase in the number of hotels and guest houses, the Master Plan-2035 envisaged aligning the tourist infrastructure in such a way that the quality of tourist accommodation is not compromised and at the same time, the urban design of the city is saved from getting spoiled.
Keeping in view the widespread phenomenon, the Master Plan-2035 has proposed to align the tourist infrastructure by creating tourist clusters and tourist circuits for tourism infrastructure and further integrating the growth of individual hotels or guest houses with road hierarchy, and functional nodes.
Interestingly, as per the comprehensive suitability and potential, new sites have already been identified in different tourism zones for the development of tourist accommodation in the Srinagar Local Area.
As per the plan, the buildings and office complexes which include the Forest Department Building, Sheikh Bagh, Lal chowk, Old Secretariat Complex, District Court Complex Lal Chowk and Veterinary Hospital Maisuma, Old Assembly Hall, Budshah Bridge, Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner/DC’s Office complex, Doordarshan complex, official residence of Chief Justice opposite SK Stadium have been identified for cessation of their existing functions so that they are put to some more subtle and compatible use preferably on PPP mode as provided
Other buildings, as per the plan, which have been planned to be transformed into hotels, include those located along Church Lane, Sonwar and CAPD godowns at Shaheed Gunj.
In addition to the heritage buildings within the core city, the Master Plan also proposes development of a tourist Spine along both banks of river Jhelum from Fateh Kadal to Safakadal and around the Brari Numbal lagoon to act as a gateway to the Old City.
Concerning the promotion and development of the Eco-Tourism, as per the plan, Dachigam Wildlife National Sanctuary, Hokersar wetland, Anchar wetland, Narkara wetland, Haran Forest, and Pampore Lagoons, and Dabsir are potential sites for the development of eco-tourism activities.
“These sites would be the new eco-tourism destinations in Srinagar city, regulated and controlled by the Wildlife and Forest Department. The carrying capacity of these sites shall be scientifically calculated to regulate the tourist flow,” the plan stated, adding that these sites need to be developed using eco-friendly processes without any externalities to the environment and strictly compliant with Eco-Tourism guidelines.
As per the plan, the areas have been earmarked and put to least impact growth for tourist infrastructure by promoting Rural Tourism on environmentally sustainable considerations in areas like Brein, Nishat, Shalimar, and Harwan in the Lake area and abutting the Hokersar and Narkara wetlands.
The projects under rural tourism have been suggested to be taken up on a stand-alone basis or in partnership with other stakeholders by pooling land and other resources to meet the basic minimum requirements as laid down in the by-laws in subsequent sections.
Further, the Flood Absorption Basin [FAB] along the National Highway Bypass, as per the plan, will be developed as Biodiversity Park or Willow Forest (commonly called Veriwaar) and an Urban Lake near Mehjoor Nagar.
The rest of the area from Kakpora to Padshahi Bagh/Mehjoor Nagar on the left side of the river Jhelum, the plan envisaged, will be developed into an Urban Farm rather than existing paddy fields.
“The preservation of this belt is important for the safety of Srinagar city from floods. As such, it is strongly recommended to preserve this area from the onslaught of urban development including even earth filling,” the plan stated.
Concerning the development and promotion of ancient sites, Burzhama Archaeological Site, Ancient Buddhist Monastery Harwan, and Parihaspora Archaeological Site (Kan-i-Shaher) are important tourist destinations presently unexploited.
“Burzhama, Buddhist Monastery, and Parihaspora archaeological sites are yet to be exposed to tourists. Their location is favorable in terms of tourism activities.”
The plan stated that these sites should be preserved by adopting various regulatory and restrictive measures, while also providing for a Tourist Village-cum-Urban Hatt at Shadad Bagh, Habbak for the promotion of ethnic and cultural tourism.
“The objective is to permit low impact development in the area which is environmentally sustainable, economically viable, a repository of heritage and representative of rural ethos and culture.”