Across the Palladium lane in Srinagar’s commercial hub Lal Chowk on the excavated ground lie several small mounds of sand, rocks, and concrete. Over a dozen stray dogs assembled near the mounds are seen rumbling at each other and the commuters.
In December last year the Srinagar administration executed the works under ‘Smart City Project’, digging up road surfaces across the city hub- Lal Chowk and other areas.
The timing and the collective digging of main roads across the city was questioned by locals and other prominent people, however, the administration justified it, saying the work has been distributed to different contractors to keep the pace-up.
But nothing was said about why the execution was done at the onset of winters, the harsh season that could possibly halt the projects and keep the city in shambles.
Even though the traders along the Lal Chowk belt say that the projects have had an impact on the business, they say they remain hopeful that the outcome of the project will revive their business on a large scale.
“We expect to taste the fruit of our sacrifice that we have had to do regarding our business during these months,” said Muhammad Bilal, who owns an electrical appliance and dry-fruit shop in the area.
About the deadline, Bilal said that the administration has assured the traders that the work will be completed by March end.
However, he said if the authorities fail to meet the given deadline. “In this scenario, traders will have nothing to feed their families and the situation will turn dire, Bilal said as he kept watching an earth mover digging up the road.
The tourist footfall at Lal Chowk has been reduced since the execution of these projects, traders say.
Before the execution, traders say cabs used to drop tourists near Ghanta Ghar, but since December, only few visitors take pains to stop some hundred metres beyond and walk back along the square to explore the market.
As J&K’s meteorological department predicted heavy rains and snowfall during the night and on Wednesday, shopkeepers fear that the project will be brought to halt for a long period.