Srinagar - City of Slums Under the Rule of Urban Elite
Jammu: It may sound unbelievable that in the summer capital of Srinagar city, the slum population has touched 2 lac mark while as in Jammu the total slum population is at 7997 only.
The figures about slum population in major cities and towns of the state, which was ruled for decades by urban elites of Srinagar who consider the city as their political fiefdom and are still ruling, was provided in a written reply to a question raised by PDP leader and MLA Darhal (Rajouri) during the ensuing budget session of the assembly. There are 199557 people living in shanty slum colonies in Srinagar city and in Jammu city the number is 7997.
As per the definition slum has been identified as, "A compact settlement of at least 20 households with a collection of poorly built tenements, mostly of temporary nature, crowded together usually with inadequate sanitary and drinking water facilities in unhygienic conditions According to a survey most of the areas identified have primitive drinking water and sanitary conditions, annulling the claims of government that many projects have been taken up to improve living conditions in neglected areas.
Only recently Peoples Democratic President Mehbooba Mufti has raised a question about the development and beautification of Srinagar city but the Minister for Rural Development Ali Muhammad Sagar supported by Advisor to Chief Minister Mubarak Gul, Peer Afaq Ahamad MLA Zadibal and Shamima Firdous MLA Habakadal created almost fuss in the House on the issue as if PDP MLA A R Veeri, who raised the question in absence of Mehbooba, has committed some heinous crime. But only a couple of days after this furore the reply to a question raised Ch. Zulfkar by a member of same party, the real picture of the political fiefdom of National Conference was uncovered before the world. There are eight National Conference MLAs and a Member of Parliament from Srinagar and the city since long is being considered as the foot hold of the party which is ruling the state for last 32 years. But unfortunately the city is fast growing as city of slums.
Interestingly according National Urban Sanitation Policy 2009-10 Srinagar is the most polluted city in the country figuring a serial No. 420 with Pilibhit and Lakhimpur two least known towns in Utter Pradesh and Churu in Rajasthan below it.
Even then our ruling urban elites get exhausted while counting their achievements and the initiatives taken for the development of the city. It is a fact the ever growing trend of migration of rural people towards Srinagar for last two decades or so, has of course a very drastic effect on the cost of living, yet it is a bitter truth the Sher-e-Khas (Old city) has become a slum centre due to the lack of basic infrastructure and amenities to the people and the living conditions of the people of the city has worsen over last two decades for the want of better socio-economic avenues.
The traditional handicraft and handloom industry which was the major source of livelihood for the people of the old city has been dying thanks to the inaptitude of the government led by urban elite. In the fast coming new residential colonies in the city outskirts are populated either by the A and B class government employees or the rural people who settled in the city for many reasons while as the city presents the centuries old picture of poverty and neglect, yet out rural urban elite claim to be the real representatives of the city.
EARLY TIMES REPORT