Riyaz ul Khaliq
1848 dated Pratap Park was officially thrown open for public on Sunday. It was renovated after hit by devastating September 2014 floods.
Restored at cost of Rs 1.2 crores under a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project, J&K Government spokesperson and Education Minister, Naeem Akhtar, dedicated the park to public.
Flanked by MLA Amira Kadal, Syed Muhammad Altaf Bukhari, Naeem Akhtar implored upon business community of Lal Chowk to maintain the park.
“Now, it is our responsibility to maintain this great work done,” Akhtar told a modest gathering comprising of employees, media men and commuters.
Naeem Akhtar said restoration of Pratap Park suggests “revival of Kashmir post 2014 floods”. “Our youth did wonders during 2014 floods in safeguarding honour and dignity of Kashmiris without even begging before anyone,” he said.
The Education Minister said that he was successful in getting various business men adopt various schools. “The successful businessmen invested and schools are now upgraded as Model schools,” he said, “in same way, it is responsibility of Residency Road business men to maintain the Pratap Park now. This Park adds to the beauty of the heart of Srinagar.”
He suggested employing two persons by the business community “who would take care of Pratap Park”.
Asserting that such spaces need to be created across summer capital, Akhtar asked people, “make us accountable but safeguard whatever we create.”
He said that restoration of Pratap Park was a pioneering effort under PPP and “it must carry on”. “Restoration of Pratap Park is the best show case of engagement among corporate world, people of Srinagar and J&K Government.”
Explaining the clearance of Srinagar city roads from vendors, he said, “it is ironic if a tourist pays Rs 20000 for a night in a Srinagar hotel but is not able to move in a bus in Srinagar.”
He termed the rehabilitation clearance of city roads and rehabilitation of vendors as “change”. “You ask what is the change we have done,” he told the audience, “this the change that commuters and vendors are happy alike.” “You can move easily from one end to other end.”
Impressing upon visitors to safeguard the Park, he rued that Kashmiris “don’t value the natural beauty bestowed upon us”. “Ask people of Rajasthan and Delhi who don’t have gardens,” he said. However, the education minister said that he was happy with young generation of Kashmir. “they are sensitive to such things and they will take care whenever such initiatives are taken.”
The restoration of Pratap Park, constructed by autocrat Maharaja Pratap Singh, was done by J&K Government under a CSR by Godfrey Philips.