By Sultan Madad
A kilometer-long section of road in the tourist hub of Kariamabd, from Zero Point to Fort road, is the bone of contention between two rival sections of the society; the suffering indigenous population who need easy road access and the hoteliers & entrepreneurs whose businesses are thriving in the said section.
These commercial buildings and businesses are at the stake of demolition in the wake of widening of the existing narrow jeep road. Owing to its location on a sharp hilly terrain, behind the glacial moraine of Ultar nallah, the business hub has developed in a narrow strip on both sides of the road. The road, built as 16 feet wide ”jeep road” four decades ago, has been widened in other parts in different times but the busiest commercial portion could not be widened due to overt and covert influence of benefitting businessmen. Widening of the road was also opposed by the heritage conservation experts of Aga Khan Trust for Culture who had envisioned the area as a typical Asian bazar with no vehicular traffic. They were of the view to build alternate road to cater the local needs. However the conceptual plan envisioned by these experts with community support could not take off due to bureaucratic hurdles which doesn’t favour supporting and empowering community based initiatives.
In the absence of legal authority, technical and financial support the community could not carry on with the concept and the initiative evaporated in the air within few years. In the meanwhile the ever increasing population and explosion of mob tourism since 2015 has resulted in jamming of the said street. Neither is there footpath for pedestrians nor is their any way out for emergencies including ambulances.