Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar. The decision to retrieve all land dealing under the Roshni Act was taken three weeks after the high court declared it unconstitutional and unsustainable.(PTI file photo)
Lal Chowk in the heart of Srinagar. The decision to retrieve all land dealing under the Roshni Act was taken three weeks after the high court declared it unconstitutional and unsustainable.(PTI file photo)

Ease of Living Index 2020: Srinagar at bottom of list of 49 cities

  • While Bangalore has been ranked top among 49 cities with population of more than a million, Bareilly, Dhanbad and Srinagar are ranked as the bottom three.
By Mir Ehsan
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2021 07:56 PM IST

Once known for its gardens and clean water bodies, Srinagar has been placed at the bottom of the list in the Ease of Living Index 2020 among 49 cities with a million-plus population.

The Ease of Living Index 2020 was released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs on Thursday.

“The Ease of Living Index (EoLI) is an assessment tool that evaluates the quality of life and the impact of various initiatives for urban development. It provides a comprehensive understanding of participating cities across India based on quality of life, economic-ability of a city, and its sustainability and resilience,” the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs said in a press release.

Srinagar’s officers, however, say many projects are underway which could improve the city’s ranking later.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said that many projects under the smart city project have been taken up which will restore the beauty of the city.

"The work has already started on various fronts and the projects. Also some parameters on which we worked have not been included in this survey which could have improved our rankings, " he said.

While Bangalore has been ranked top among cities with population of more than a million followed by Pune and Ahmedabad Bareilly, Dhanbad and Srinagar are ranked as the bottom three.

"Unfortunately political unrest and red tapism is one of the reasons for being at the bottom. Besides, policy makers are not among the people who can understand the needs and requirements of local people. So implementation of right policy for the right place keeping the demographics into consideration will help in improving the ease of living standards," said Dr. Umar Nazir Tibet Baqal, a prominent businessman of the city.

Former SMC Commissioner, Dr Shafqat Khan said there has been mass lawlessness after the eruption of militancy in the 1990s and large scale violations of the Master Plan in the city.

"Unplanned urbanisation of Srinagar is a huge setback in land use issues. The other criteria are being taken up now in the Smart city and other central schemes of the Government of India and are now being taken aggressively by the LG Administration."

The 15 evaluation criteria included in the ranking are governance, identity and culture, education, health, safety and security, economy, affordable housing, land use planning, public open spaces, transportation and mobility, assured water supply, waste-water management, solid waste management, power, and quality of environment.

"Unfortunately Srinagar is prone to water logging, flooding seems a permanent phenomenon and there is terrible civil sense among the people. Vehicle parking, shopping and recreational activities are missing here due to which the pressure is mounting on whatever space is available within the city. Hydrological system and solid waste management in the city are inadequate. The breathing space we had in the form of lakes and water bodies, grasslands and green cover is shrinking rapidly. Even the Zabarwan mountains have taken a huge hit and the flood basin of river Jhelum is over and there is hardly anything left to reclaim," said Jaleel Jeelani, an environmental filmmaker.

Many people, however, say the survey has revealed the truth about the top city of J&K.

"The placing of Srinagar at the bottom completely contradicts the projection of Srinagar as a smart city by the officials. Irrespective of the officials’ claims, every common resident here knows that the city lacks even the basic parameters of proper roads, water and electricity. Conflict has often been used as an excuse by the authorities for unplanned development in the city but what is preventing now to plan systematically. We still see officials rushing to spend the money in the last month of the financial year while the same money is kept idle for 11 months," said Gowhar Ahmad who works with an NGO.

"We still lack proper parking spaces. Electricity and water supply are pathetic. New colonies are being established but why aren't officials using modern techniques to lay electric cables there? In terms of pollution we are still seeing 30-year-old vehicles running on the roads. What worse blunders can there be than open drains still emptying in Jhelum and the Dal,” Ahmad said.

Srinagar’s mayor Junaid Mattu could not be contacted for comments on Srinagar ranking at the bottom.

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