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J&K Govt completes 211 languishing projects worth Rs 390 cr



BK News

Srinagar, Sept 30: Principal Secretary Public Works Department, Shailendra Kumar Wednesday asked the engineers of the Public Works Department (PWD) to use engineering wisdom and professional standards for accomplishing the tasks on time.

The Principal Secretary, according to an official spokesperson, made these remarks while chairing the review meeting of languishing projects executed by the department funded by J&K Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC).

Development Commissioner (Works), Sami Arif; Executive Director JKIDFC, Shamim Ahmad Wani; Chief Engineer (R&B) Kashmir, Showkat Jeelani; Director Finance, Mazhar Hussain were present in the meeting.

Chief Engineer (R&B) Jammu, Ashok Kumar; Executive Director, JKPCC, N.D Khawaja and all Superintending Engineers and Executive Engineers participated in the meeting through video conferencing.

The Principal Secretary asked the officers to meet deadlines for completion of the projects. He asked them to avoid cost escalation and time overruns as it attributes to non-professional conduct on part of the executing agencies.

Kumar also advised the officers to devote to the public all such projects that have been completed. He took stock of all the projects sponsored by JKIDFC under the languishing category.

Kumar asked for the physical and financial progress of all the projects taken under this category. He also asked for the details of bills uploaded for payment. He further enquired about the reasons for not uploading the bills, wherever the same remained undone.

The Principal Secretary asked the departments to use their resources optimally. He advised JKPCC to use the patronage extended by the government effectively so that the corporation rises on the ladder of success briskly.

The meeting was informed that some 632 languishing projects across the districts of J&K have been approved by the Finance Department at a cost of Rs 1460 crore through JKIDFC. Many of the projects have already been completed with the rest of them at different phases of completion through different executing agencies.

The meeting further revealed that 30 projects with a cumulative cost of Rs 68.28 crore have been completed during this month. It was also given in the meeting that the target fixed for October is 76 projects at the cost of Rs 93.33 crore.

The meeting was informed that a total of 211 projects worth Rs 393.65 crore have been completed during the years 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The projects include roads, bridges, schools, colleges, hospitals and other public utility projects. It was also revealed that once all the projects get completed the developmental landscape of UT will get transformed to a larger extent.


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Srinagar roads unfriendly for pedestrians 



Srinagar roads unfriendly for pedestrians 

Lack of footpaths, walkways makes it dangerous for people to move around in the city.

As the vehicular traffic in the Srinagar roads has witnessed an unprecedented rise in the last few years, it is becoming extremely dangerous for pedestrians to move around in the city. On the one side, fast-moving traffic is making it life-threatening to cross the roads and streets, while on the other side, illegal encroachment of footpaths, walkways is pushing back foot-travellers to walk alongside the cars and motorcycles on transport tracks at great risk to their lives.

When there are no legal provisions for protecting pedestrians and their movement, our government and policymakers do not plan safe passages, neither there are proper crossing points in their road designs. Existing footpaths and crossing points are ill-planned and without any zebra crossing signs. As on-street parking takes precedence over pedestrian infrastructure like paved sidewalks in our city planning, space for pedestrian movement is shrinking fast on the city roads. It is a dangerous trend for a city that homes more than two million people, is touted as a metropolis, and projected as a key tourist destination.

Modern cities are not only pedestrian-friendly, but they take special care of the needs of children and old age people. People with disabilities, especially those with mobility issues, face a hard time moving around in Srinagar city. There is no way that one can push around a wheelchair or a pram.

Pedestrian right of way needs to be the priority of any road planning in the city, but it is otherwise here.

Most of the existing footpaths – as the pavements or sidewalks are named here – are narrow or full of obstacles making them unfit for public use. There is no uniformity. At some places, these footpaths are so high that they look like a supporting bund or retention wall. At many junctions, they lack connectivity with each other. Electricity poles, TV and telecommunication cable poles, billboards, even city beautification lights and trees are installed, in such a way, that these footpaths automatically become unusable.   

While traffic lights have been installed at many major traffic junctions in the city from time to time, but most of them are not made functional due to unknown reasons. There are no pedestrian crossing arrangements at these traffic crossing points. Even vehicular blockades are laid without keeping into consideration foot travellers. Take the example of Jehangir Chowk – Exhibition Ground junction, which witnesses heavy traffic throughout the day. As there is no system to stop the traffic, to let the pedestrians cross, it is extremely difficult for the people on foot to cross the congested junction. (These issues cannot be overcome by painting the pillars of the overhead bridge.)

The same is the case ahead of Badshah Bridge near the Maisuma-Koker Bazaar crossing. People keep crossing in moving traffic, mostly at great risk to their life and safety. In fact, there are no designated pedestrian crossing points in the entire Srinagar city.  

While the administration keeps saying that Srinagar will be developed into a world-class ‘smart city’, they should note that it is not possible by allowing haphazard and unplanned constructions by both the private sector and the government agencies. 

Modern cities are not only pedestrian-friendly, but they take special care of the needs of children and old age people. People with disabilities, especially those with mobility issues, face a hard time moving around in Srinagar city. There is no way that one can push around a wheelchair or a pram.

To make Srinagar a modern city, its roads not only need redesign but more focus must be given to footpaths, sidewalks, bicycle tracks and sophisticated public transport. That is doable within the available resources.

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SKUAST-K bags EU project for urban green infrastructure  



SKUAST-K bags EU project

 Srinagar, April 19: Adding another feather to its cap, Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology Kashmir has bagged a prestigious European Union (EU) Project, ‘URGENT’, for the promotion of urban green infrastructure and climate-friendly liveable cities.

The project has been granted to the SKUAST-K’s Faculty of Forestry under the European Union’s Erasmus education programme on ‘Urban Resilience and Adaptation through Nature-based Solutions’ as a project partner.

‘URGENT’ is yet another such prestigious project received by the university. Earlier in 2019, the university got a Rs 30-crore grant under National Agricultural Higher Education Project (NAHEP) jointly funded by the World Bank and Indian Council of Agricultural Research for the institutional development of the SKUAST-K.

University after signing the agreement with the University of Bremen, Germany entered into a collaboration with four European Universities, three universities and two institutes in Mongolia, besides three universities and two institutes in India with a consortium outlay of one million Euros (€). The grant agreement pre-signed by Director of Finance and Administration, University of Bremen, Frauke Meyer, was signed by V-C SKUAST-K, Prof JP Sharma in presence of Director Planning and Monitoring Prof NA Ganai, Dean Faculty of Forestry Prof TH Masoodi, and Principal Investigator of the project Dr Akhlaq Amin Wani.

The V-C at the moment lauded the Dean Forestry for encouraging the scientists of the faculty for achieving such a historic feat. He congratulated PI of the project Dr Akhlaq Amin Wani for bringing laurels to the university.

Prof NA Ganai in his remarks congratulated the project and said that bagging such projects will make the presence of SKUAST-K felt at the global level.

Theproject is the first of its kind for SKUAST-K in receiving a direct grant fromthe European Union and provides an opportunity to enter into collaboration withsome of the finest universities in Europe including the University of BremenGermany, University of Catania Italy, Estonian University of Life Sciences andMartin Luther University Germany besides some of the leading universities andinstitutes in Mongolia and India.

The project aim is to promote green & blue infrastructure and nature-based solutions (GBI&NBS) for resilient, climate-friendly and liveable cities through ICT-enhanced tertiary education linked to labour markets & wider stakeholder circles.

It is joint research in managing urban forest, resilience and adaptation, revising existing curricula with European standards, capacity building and creation of learning platforms for enhancing green and blue infrastructure in the respective regions.

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Srinagar worst city to live in according to country’s Ease of Living Index-2020



Srinagar worst city to live

Ranked 49th at EoLI and Municipal Performance Index’ for 2020

Srinagar, March 4: Srinagar city has figured at the bottom of ‘Ease of Living Index (EoLI)-2020’ released by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry on Thursday. The poor performance on the index has made it the worst big city to live in the country with more than one million population.

Union MoS Urban and Housing Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri announced the release of the final rankings of Ease of Living Index (EoLI) 2020 and the Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020 in New Delhi on Thursday in an online event in presence of Durga Shanker Mishra, Secretary, MoHUA and senior officials of the ministry.

The Srinagar city has got the bottom rank, 49th, among the cities with a population of more than 1 million or 10 lakh people. It has scored 42.95 points out of 100 on the Ease of Living performance indicators, conducted by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs since 2018 under its smart city project along with the Municipal Performance Index. Srinagar’s score is way behind the all-India aggregate 53.51 score of 111 cites. Srinagar has performed five points below Dhanbad, the second-worst city at the 48th rank with 46.96 score.

Similarly, Srinagar city has also figured on the bottom of the ‘Municipal Performance Index (MPI) 2020’ leaving behind only Kota and Guwahati among the cities with a million-plus population. Srinagar’s score for Municipal Performance Index is even poorer than that of its Ease of Living Index score with only 25.93 points out of 100.

In fact, Srinagar figures at the bottom of both indices (EoLI and MPI) when all the 111 cities, including 49 with a million-plus population and 62 with less than 1 million population are combined together. Jammu, which figures in the list of cities with less than 1 million population has performed a few points better than Srinagar with an overall score of 52.49 points.

The Ease of Living (EOL) Index has been formed to measure the outcomes of the various programmes and schemes launched by the centre to verify whether these interventions were effective in ushering development in urban areas.

The Ease of Living Index is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development. The EoLI evaluates the well- being of citizens in 111 cities, which comprises cities identified under the Smart Cities Mission, capital cities and cities with a population of over 1 million. As a data-driven evaluation tool that quantifies the performance of cities across several parameters, the index also serves to empower cities to use evidence-based planning and implementation, write the authors of the EoLI report in its preface.

It provides a comprehensive understanding of participating cities across the country based on the quality of life, economic-ability of a city, and its sustainability and resilience. The assessment also incorporates the residents’ view on the services provided by city administration through a Citizen Perception Survey, as per the authors.

Srinagar has performed terribly in almost all indicators of EoLI, except for the Peoples’ Perception Survey. There is not a single Indicator or Pillar, where it has shown better performance than any other city among the 111 indexed. In the Quality of Life’ indicator, Srinagar has got 26.06 points. In the ‘Economic Ability’ indicator, it has got only 3.09 points, which indicates the lack of business opportunities and poor economic scenario of the city. In ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Ease of Living’, the score is 57.61 and 21.11 respectively. Citizen Perception is the only indicator, where Srinagar has shown better performance with a 72.80 score.

The MPI examines the sectoral performance of 111 municipalities of the country across five verticals which comprise of 20 sectors and 100 indicators. The five verticals under MPI are Services, Finance, Policy, Technology and Governance.

In the Municipal Performance Index, Srinagar’s score is even worst with 25.93 points out of 100 among the big cities with a million-plus population. In the ‘Governance’ indicator of MPI, Srinagar has scored 20.83 points. In Technology, it has scored 9.03. In services and finance, it has scored 27.02 and 33.45 respectively. For ‘Planning’ , the score is a little better with 37.40 points.

The MPI, according to the MHUA, was launched as an accompaniment to the EoLI. It seeks to examine local government practice in municipalities across areas of services, finance, policy, technology and governance. It seeks to simplify and evaluate the complexities in local governance practice and promote the ethos of transparency and accountability.

The EoLI encapsulates the outcome indicators while the MPI captures the enabling input parameters. These indices provide a holistic assessment of cities based on their efforts to cultivate better quality of life, create infrastructure, and address challenges of urbanization.

Infact, MPI provides a granular understanding of a municipalities’ functionalities and the extent of their development and capabilities. Through the index, citizens can better understand their local government administration, which in turn builds transparency and generates trust among key stakeholders.

The framework covers 20 varied sectors vis. Education, Health, Water & Wastewater, SWM & Sanitation, Registration & Permits, Infrastructure, Revenue Management, Expenditure Management, Fiscal Responsibility, Fiscal Decentralisation, Digital Governance, Digital Access, Digital Literacy, Plan Preparation, Plan Implementation, Plan Enforcement, Transparency & Accountability, Human Resource, Participation and Effectiveness.

Bangalore and Shimla have figured on top among big and small cities, respectively.

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