JAMMU, Mar 6: In a bid to ensure effective coordination between all the agencies, the Government today announced new system of governance for twin capital cities-Jammu and Srinagar under which all concerned Departments would work under the control of the Divisional Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir.
The new concept of governance for Jammu and Srinagar cities, which hosts capital of the State for six months of winter and summer on rotational basis, was announced by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti at a meeting of the District Development Board (DDB), Srinagar this morning. It has been named as Capital City Development Plan.
Mehbooba is chairperson of the DDB Srinagar. Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh also attended the DDB meeting apart from other senior Ministers, legislators and top bureaucrats.
Official sources told the Excelsior that under the new Model of Governance, proposed for the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar, the respective Divisional Commissioners of the two divisions (Jammu and Kashmir), have been designated as Incharge for all developmental works, both in Central and State sector, as well as that of individual departments.
“Under the new Model, all agencies would coordinate the developmental works and report to the Divisional Commissioners,” sources said, adding that the significant decision was aimed at ensuring “effective and better coordination” among various departments and agencies involved in the developmental works.
Pointing out that multiple agencies were working in the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar for different type of developmental works, sources noted that it was being observed at the corridors of power that works were hampered, delayed or even abandoned due to interference of several agencies. The new mechanism was expected to end this practice as the Divisional Commissioners would control the departments and there would be single authority for works.
The Government hoped that works under Centrally Sponsored Schemes as well as State sector would gain impetus and proceed smoothly after the new mechanism of governance in the capital cities is put in place.
However, sources clarified that this mechanism would be in place only till the elected Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) are formed. Thereafter the Mayors will take control.
“Once the ULBs are in place, they would gain control of majority of developmental works with enhanced powers and coordination between different Government departments. The ULBs would have enhanced powers after their elections as compared to previous Municipalities that existed between 2005 to 2010,” sources said.
Sources said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called upon the people’s representatives especially the legislators to use their goodwill among the people and prevail upon them to shun violence to facilitate developmental works in Srinagar.
Admitting that developmental works took a back seat last summer in the summer capital city of the State due to prolonged unrest in the Valley, Mehbooba told the DDB Srinagar meeting that if peace prevailed, the development works would be doubled in Srinagar to compensate for the losses of last year.
“We have enough funding, both under Centrally Sponsored Schemes and State sector. There is no dearth of funding. However, the only problematic zone is violence. If peace prevailed, we will carry forward the developmental works of last year as well as this year. However, if there is trouble, the development will again become a casualty,” the Chief Minister said.
Mehbooba directed that legislators (both MLAs and MLCs) should be involved in all major developmental works including preparation of plans for smart cities etc as they could give better suggestions pertaining to their areas.
The Chief Minister directed all the senior officers present in the meeting to involve legislators before finalizing developmental works and take their suggestions on board.
However, sources said, National Conference legislators from Srinagar district resented poor allocations to Srinagar, the summer capital of the State, in the district annual plan as compared to Jammu district and wanted the plan amount to be increased.
“The less plan amounted to discrimination with Srinagar region,” the NC MLAs pointed out and demanded equal allocations to Srinagar at par with Jammu on the ground that both were capital cities and deserved equal support and attention.
Another significant decision taken in the DDB Srinagar meeting pertained to launch of water transport in the summer capital city for which modalities would be worked out by different departments very shortly.
An official handout said:
Under the plan, city development agencies like Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), the Cantonment Board and other externally aided projects aimed at infrastructure development in the summer capital shall be de-linked from funding under the district plan and provided with dedicated resources under an independent arrangement.
The decision was taken to pace up the developmental progress of the city and augment the socio economic infrastructure in view of the increasing population and demands. The step would delink the development of the city from the District administration, thus enhancing the efficiency of service delivery and saving the time on project completions.
A similar Capital City Development Plan would be formulated for Jammu city.
For implementation of Capital City Development Plan, the Chief Minister, who is also incharge Planning and Development Department, announced an allocation of Rs 600 crore for Srinagar city for 2017-18, which would be over and above Rs 102 crore annual plan for the district. She said besides undertaking major infrastructure development activities in Srinagar city through SMC, SDA, LAWDA and other agencies in a coordinated and substantive manner under CCDP, Rs 50 lakh would be provided to each constituency in district Srinagar for focused infrastructure development in each and every area.
The Chief Minister said that the funds for implementation of CCDP would be pooled in from the State’s own resources, Prime Minister’s Developmental Programme (PMDP), Centrally Sponsored Schemes and Public-Private Partnership.
Regarding the accomplishment of the CCDP, the Chief Minister said the independent over-arching body to oversee the implementation shall be headed by an elected Mayor. “Till the time such a Constitutional arrangement is put in place, the respective Divisional Commissioners of Jammu/ Kashmir will be designated the Nodal Authorities for implementation of CCDP,” she said.
She said the new developmental mechanism would be aimed at improving and augmenting the economic and social infrastructure of Srinagar and Jammu cities in a coordinated manner with adequate availability of resources. “CCDP would be based on assessment of the existing developmental scenario in the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu, outlining a vision for future development and strategizing for achieving these objectives,” she said and added that it will also work-out the indicative investment requirements and financial operating plans, indicating how investments made in public infrastructure are to be sustained.
The Chief Minister said CCDP initiative would also ensure coordinated infrastructure development in the capital cities, as otherwise multiplicity of executing and implementing agencies has resulted in lopsided planning and non-productive utilization of resources. It would ensure planned development of the capital cities including peri-urban areas, out growths and urban corridors, so that urbanization takes place in a dispersed and uniform manner,” she said adding that the new mechanism would also help scale up the delivery of civic amenities and provision of utilities to the residents of Srinagar and Jammu cities.
The Chief Minister described Srinagar as a unique city and one of the oldest in the country after Varanasi. She said it is the duty of everybody to take the city to the heights commensurate with its culture, history and rich heritage. She hoped that this year working season would be utilized full to execute the works and compensate the loss of time during last fiscal.
Terming the old city as a symbol of heritage, Mehbooba Mufti asked for dovetailing handicrafts and heritage in city development in such a fashion to make Srinagar an attraction for art and heritage lovers. She said her Government is trying to promote Srinagar as a tourist destination in itself and this year 23 projects worth Rs. 123 crore have been taken up in the city. She directed exploring the tourist potential of water bodies in the city besides Dal like Chounte Kul, Kitte Kul, Sonner Kul etc.
Mehbooba also stressed on giving a thought to operationalisation of water transport through Jhelum and across Dal to develop alternate transportation and increase the tourist footfall in the city. She directed completion of work on all ongoing projects in the city.
In today’s meeting, the board approved an outlay of Rs 600 crore under the Capital City Plan for 2017-18 for the Srinagar city. This is in addition to Rs 102 crore under district sector allocation for the city.
The Chief Minister, who also holds the portfolio of Planning & Development, approved release of Rs. 34 crore as additionality for the current fiscal besides Rs. 20 crore for settling cases of land acquisition and other expenses.
In another major decision, the Chief Minister directed release of Rs 50 lakh in respect of all the Assembly constituencies of the city to be utilized for civic repairs by the concerned MLAs.
In a specific direction, the Chief Minister ordered immediate repairs of the toilets in offices, schools and hospitals.
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh in his observations said the Srinagar city would be developed in a befitting manner and in tune with its historic and cultural grandeur. He hoped that the Departments like Power and Urban Development would improve their functioning further thereby improving the quality of life of the city dwellers.
Minister for PWD, Naeem Akhtar in his observations assured the members that the Government would give the city one of the best infrastructures in a short time. He said the upcoming Soiteng Bridge would be connected with Mehjoor Nagar to give the city an alternative entry route. He asked the R&B Department to start the process of ditch filling and metalling of all roads in the city ahead of starting macadamisation during summer season.
Later the Board approved the annual plan for Srinagar for 2017-18.
Meanwhile, 16 projects for Rs. 234 crore have been sanctioned under AMRUT for Srinagar city and out of these, work on four has started. Also, Rs. 3600 crore Smart City project is being submitted to Centre for approval under which 101 projects of city development would be taken.
This was disclosed in a meeting of District Development Board Srinagar here today which was chaired by Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, who is also chairperson of the board.
The Smart City project among other things envisaged development of 1180 acres of old city, rejuvenation and beautification of Jhelum river fronts and adjoining markets, protection and preservation of some 200 marked heritage buildings besides developing walkways and improving urban transportation in the Srinagar city.
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh and several Ministers were present in the meeting.
On the cultural richness of the city, Mehbooba Mufti directed exploring possibilities of setting up an Art Gallery in Srinagar. She said a huge treasure of artifacts in the city is lying unattended and stressed the need for having a gallery to show case the local art and heritage. She also directed expeditious completion of work on the SPS Museum.