BY HAROON RASHID BHAT
Nobody from outside will come to change our position or fortune, it is the collective responsibility of both government and public to work in coordination to improve our living standard”
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. While framing this index, the Ministry of Union Housing and Urban Affairs reckon the ease of living of citizens living in the cities across India into three pillars: quality of life, economic ability, and sustainability. If we take a brief view of these pillars or parameters it includes:
The first pillar: Quality of Life is reflective of an individual’s ability to survive and prosper in a particular area. It indicates whether a region can provide its citizens with the basic needs of survival such as safe and livable housing facilities, improved sources of water and sanitation, access to basic education and health facilities, etc
The second pillar: Economic-ability” focuses on the economic building blocks of the individuals and city as a whole and takes into account the need for growth and change in the economic well-being in terms of increase in wages, creation of greater employment opportunities, need for clusters, etc.
The third pillar – Sustainability aims at realizing the need for greener cities and an emphasis on the reduction of energy consumption. It is important to touch upon this aspect as it is an indicator of everything that can hinder people from achieving their full potential in life. If we do the general assessment of our city- Srinagar, it is reflecting a grim picture.
According to the index released by Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister for the year 2021, Srinagar is ranked at the lowest 42.95 among the Indian cities with a population of more than a million, and in the same category, Bengaluru has been rated 66.70- the most livable city. Whereas, Shimla topped the category of cities with a ‘’population less than million with ranking at 60.90. Muzaffarpur with 45.53.
The experts dealing with the overall development of cities like urban sociologists, economists, and urban planners may attribute various reasons against this dismal performance. But, as a common citizen, I would count the following reasons responsible for this poor ranking:
Lack of Infrastructural planning: Urban planning is not just about restricting land use, gross floor area, height limits, and imposing and imposing various control guidelines for plots of land but it is a vision that conveys the aspirations of both the government and the people. Unfortunately, the haphazard alignment of physical structures like government or private offices, shops, unplanned residential houses, the existence of commercial units in the residential areas, inappropriate car parking, improper drainage system, agencies associated with the implementation of Mather Plan remain none- serious while executing the master plan on the ground. etc create a mess that ultimately disfigured the face of Srinagar city. Otherwise, this place is bestowed with diverse gifts by nature.
Lack of coordination among the various departments: It becomes a common sight that department looking after the maintenance of roads macadamized any road, lane or by lane and another department on the next day or week bulldozed the same justifying their action by saying that they are doing it in favor of the public.
Lack of employment opportunities: To raise the living standard of the people, financial security plays a pivotal role. This financial security can be ensured by creating job opportunities but for the last two decades, the unemployment ratio has been showing an upward trend in Srinagar.
Lack of awareness: There is large junk of population living within municipality limits who are unaware of the right and duties that a citizen must-have. This lack of knowledge further puts a negative impact on their living condition. For example; how many young or elderly senior citizens know about the various social, educational, or medical scheme that the government has initiated for them? Similarly how many people are aware about the civic duties?
The ease of living index is a mirror that enables us to understand and assess the social, economic, and ecological assessment of a city. Nobody from outside will come to change our fortune or beautify our disfigured face, it is the collective responsibility of both government and public to work in coordination to improve our living standard. Also, there is the need for one main coordination agency and a clear division of work between the agencies as well as the various levels of government. There is a urgent need for sustainable of JK, particular in the Srinagar City in order to achieve better results in the development.
Let us take a pledge to make Srinagar one of the best cities in the world.
Haroon Rashid Bhat is a teacher by profession and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org