Developing vertical satellite colonies vital to tide over housing crisis: Mufti

Orders Monitoring Panel headed by CS to expedite SDA, JDA Projects; Asks SDA to expedite work on Shehjar Apartments, Satellite Township at Rakh-e-Gund Akshah

Jammu and Kashmir News

SRINAGAR, SEPTEMBER 08, 2015 – Asserting that lapses in implementation of projects will not be tolerated and officers be made accountable, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, today ordered formulation of a high-level Committee, headed by Chief Secretary B. R. Sharma, to speed up progress on existing as well as upcoming projects being executed by Srinagar and Jammu Development Authorities.

To overcome acute shortage of affordable housing colonies in the two capital cities which are rapidly bursting at their seams, the Chief Minister also desired framing of a comprehensive PPP Policy so that infrastructure projects are taken up and completed in a time-bound manner.

The Chief Minister said this while chairing a high-level meeting to review the status of housing and commercial projects being implemented by Srinagar Development Authority (SDA).

Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh, who also holds the charge of H&UDD, and Minister for Public Works, Floriculture, Gardens & Parks, Syed Altaf Bukhari, were also present on the occasion.

Noting with serious concern the lack of pace on developing affordable housing colonies for the economically weaker sections of the society, Mufti Sayeed called upon the Chief Secretary to immediately clear hurdles in setting up of Shehjar Apartments by SDA near Bemina, whose foundation stone was laid way back on February 24, 2013 by the then Chief Minister. “Shehjar Vertical Housing Colony is a prestigious project which has to be put back on rails so that flatted accommodation comprising 532 residential flats is fast-tracked,” he added.

Mufti Meeting

Mufti Sayeed observed that successful projects are not run on autopilot but closely monitored till they are completed and commissioned in a time-bound manner. He said the state is grappling with a huge problem on housing shortage for middle and low-income groups because of the lackadaisical approach of the previous government. He said the problem has reached ominous proportions and unless the Government realizes the its magnitude, a crisis with serious social implications will stare us in the face. “In most of our urban centres, there are 2-3 families sharing a single room. We cannot afford to allow the situation to drift away till it gets out of control,” the Chief Minister said in unequivocal terms.

The Chief Secretary has been asked to examine comprehensive PPP Policy so that infrastructure projects are taken up and completed in a time-bound manner. Commissioner / Secretary, H&UDD, Divisional Commissioners, VCs of JDA and  SDA and Chief Town Planners (CTP) of Kashmir and Jammu divisions shall be the other members of the Committee.

Expressing disappointment over no headway having been made in development of a Satellite Township at Rakh-e-Gund Asksha, for which 4500 kanals of state land have been transferred to SDA way back in 2000, the Chief Minister tasked the Chief Secretary to immediately remove bottlenecks, so that work on the project is taken in hand. He said land development and public housing are two of the most important roles assigned to the Development Authorities. “It is the duty of the Government to provide affordable housing colonies to the people and with land available, we cannot afford to sit back and watch helplessly,” he added.

Placing high priority on revision of Srinagar Master Plan, Mufti Sayeed said planned development cannot take place unless the land use is defined. He directed the Chief Secretary to provide adequate manpower to the Town Planning Organization so that the revised Master Plan for Srinagar City is approved and ratified by the Cabinet before December 31 this year.

The Chief Minister also directed the Chief Town Planner to prepare a plan to expand city precincts to lay edifice of a stylish city with multiple satellite townships. He expressed concern that a large number of commercial and residential structures have come up in violation of approved master plans across the state. On the issue of decongesting the summer capital city from heavy vehicular traffic on its south and north corridors, Mufti Sayeed issued instructions for removal of all encroachments and illegal structures at Regional Bus Stand, Panthachowk, so that prime land comprising 352 kanals can be commercially-developed with all modern facilities. He said he will personally visit the site identified for Bus Terminal at Shalteng, which will go a long way in streamlining vehicular traffic from Baramulla and Kupwara districts. “The north and south corridors are gateways to summer capital and these need to be handled with proper care,” he stressed.

On the instructions of the Chief Minister, the work on widening of Panthachowk-Zewan Junction on South axis, a major impediment in smooth movement of traffic from South Kashmir, is presently going on full swing.

Describing Sangarmal as SDA’s best known property in the heart of the city, the Chief Minister said the asset can become a money-spinner if it is run in a professional manner. On his instructions, SDA has obtained NoC from Estates Department to give the Mall a frontal view facing the Maulana Azad Road. As many as 42 kanals of land are also being utilized on the rear side in a bid to add more facilities at Sangarmaal.

Regarding the progress made on developing parking lots at Sheikh Bagh and Old State Motor Garages, the Chief Minister was informed that two projects worth Rs.110 crore have been submitted to the Administrative Department for approval.

The Chief Minister also directed Vice Chairman, SDA, Salma Hamid, to revive the proposal for setting up of a satellite commercial complex at Nowgam. He also passed instructions to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to expedite acquisition of land so that the work on the project is taken up.

In his address, the Deputy Chief Minister, who is also the Chairman of SDA, said he recently convened the Governing Body meeting of SDA after more than two years and took several important decisions to put the organization back on track. He said frequent transfers of VC had severely dented the output of SDA.

Also present in the meeting were Minister of State for H&UDD and I&C, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof. Amitabh Mattoo, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asgar Hassan Samoon, IGP Traffic, J. P. Singh, Chief Engineers of I&FC, PHE, R&B and senior officers of the H&UDD department.

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