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Oppn parties oppose shifting of J&K capital

A M Sofi in Srinagar | May 17, 2005 16:13 IST

A proposal to shift the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir from Srinagar to Parihaspora has met with stiff resistance from several quarters.

Several political parties, including the main opposition National Conference, have said the expenditure needed for moving the secretariat and other offices to Parihaspora could be diverted to building schools, hospitals and roads in the state.

"We need no new capital at an exorbitant expenditure of Rs 3,500 crore, which could be utilised for the betterment of Kashmiris by constructing schools, colleges, hospitals and roads, which are in a dilapidated condition across the Valley," NC president Omar Abdullah said.

Ridiculing the idea, another senior leader of the party, Ali Mohammad Sagar, said, "Instead of finding ways and means to mitigate the problems of the people, the People's Democratic Party-led coalition is trying to squander funds on unproductive projects."

The Communist Party of India-Marxist, which supports the government from outside, has also opposed the idea.

The party's state secretary M Y Tarigami said, "I don't think it is a very serious move yet. The government complexes should be moved a little away from the market area and the beautiful city, but not relocated to any other place."

"It is wrong to assume that the government wants to help villagers by this move. The government has, in fact, done very little for the upliftment of rural areas," he added.

The brain behind the move, Finance Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig, said the basic objective behind a new capital was to decongest and develop Srinagar as an exclusive tourist resort with heritage villages to make it compete with global tourist destinations.

He said the proposal has received the Centre's nod and the new capital should be ready within the next three years at an estimated cost of Rs 3,500 crore.

National Democratic Front chairman and former member of Parliament Abdul Rashid Kabuli said the government must first attend to the problems of Srinagar, a city of 15 lakh people.

Shifting the capital from Srinagar to Parihaspora and moving government offices to rural areas is like shifting the Union capital from Delhi to south India, Kabuli said.

Srinagar has had a chequered history dating back to 250 BC, when king Ashoka founded the city as the capital of Kashmir.

Srinagar then occupied the site of the present Pandrethan, about 5 km from Srinagar, and Ashoka named it Srinagari.

The place was the venue of a Buddhist conference during the reign of Kanishka, and Muslim preachers Syed Sharifuddin Bulbul and Mir Syed Ali Hamdani chose this place to spread Islam, Kabuli said.

Travellers and tourists have always been drawn in numbers to see the paradise on earth, as Kashmir is often referred to, and pilgrims and preachers have found the city a place for the attainment of ultimate spiritual contentment.

Over the centuries, the city of Srinagar, originally situated on the right bank of the Jhelum river, expanded in all directions.

Post-1947, the city was expanded to about 90 sq km, extending on one side from Pandrethan to Pandach in Ganderbal, from Harwan to Chhanpora in Budgam, while still further its boundaries have stretched beyond Zainakote to the Baramulla district.

It has been said that there is scope for further improvement and development of the city, which can be expanded from Ganderbal to Narbal in the north and upto Pampore in south Kashmir.

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