What is Wrong with this Picture?

My childhood was spent in and around the Dal Lake. I grew up in a house bursting with assorted cousins and post-school hours were devoted to exploration and fun – climbing up the Shankracharya hill, riding in 'borrowed' shikaras and dakotas, mass participation in games of football or 'birra' cricket, flying kites and gawking at visitors (tourists) being disgorged by huge buses on to the boulevard.

On rare occasions we would venture as far as the mysterious lanes of the Dalgate bazaar which, with its strong Central Asian flavour, seemed to have a fairytale aura to our young eyes.

Beyond the tonga stand lay smoky shops filled with huge sacks of wares peddled by turbaned and pheraned shopkeepers pulling languidly on their hookahs.

The flower-covered roofs of earlier times and the tonga stand of my childhood are long gone – unplanned 'progress' having doomed the area into 'modernity'.

So, decades on from the earlier photograph, what is wrong with this picture?

My take:

Heritage buildings replaced by hodgepodge structures

Responsibility : Public as owners/builders and SMC for granting permission, not ensuring a common building code and not providing incentives for maintaining heritage buildings.

– Ramshackle sheds and garish billboards obscuring the delicate architecture of the area

Responsibility : Public as owners/builders and SMC for granting permission, and not ensuring a common building code.

– Iredeemably ugly poles and overhead wires, and unmaintained switch boxes

Responsibility : BSNL and PDD.

– Handcarts and illegally parked cars and autorickshaws obstructing traffic

Responsibility : Traffic police for not ensuring the smooth flow of traffic by allowing obstructions, not penalising offenders and not posting enough personnel.

– Leftover building material on roads

Responsibility :Public/Contractors

Not in picture:

– Street hawkers blocking pedestrian access.

Responsibility : SMC

– Cows and sometimes horses blocking roads.

Responsibility : Public as owners

– Packs of feral dogs harassing passers-by.

Responsibility : SMC

– Garbage strewn on roads.

Responsibility : Public/SMC

– Roads left un-repaired after digging for pipes/cables etc.

Responsibility : PHE, R&B and BSNL for not ensuring their contractors repair roads after digging for maintenance/repair.

– Zero public toilet facilities.

Responsibility : SMC

It is not like the government cannot preserve and maintain its architectural heritage.

Rebuilt Arts Emporium.

Restored Boathouse at Nagin Lake.

I feel that we need a project for soft loans and hand-holding for restoration of privately owned buildings so generations after us can enjoy these timeless works of art.

Dalgate, being the nerve centre of tourism in Srinagar, can be a priority area for preservation of heritage structures, efficient traffic control, ample parking facilities and cleanliness.

The lessons learnt here can be replicated across Srinagar city so it can live up to its name which historians tell us means 'city of wealth and beauty'.

P.S All those 'experts' who quote natural progress, market forces, tourism demands blah blah can compare wartime and modern-day Europe, some 70 years later: