SRINAGAR: In order to help officials, planers and the private investors to ensure the creation of new infrastructure does not run riot with the ecology, culture and the heritage, Tourism ministry hosted a workshop inviting relevant for sharing experiences and sustainable models. Almost 26 architects, designers and various other experts are currently exchanging ideas with the host stakeholders in SKICC.

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Planners of the exercise said that the new investments being made in the tourism sector are essentially undoing many basics that require protection and conservation. “Every new developmental activity should not necessarily begin with the destruction,” one of the planners of the workshop Tasawur told Kashmir Life. “The idea is to sensitize the local stakeholders in private and public sector about the requirement of least interventions with fragile ecology and making cultural aspects key in the local architecture.”

The workshop has five thematic sessions that specifically would discuss sustainable architecture and design; urban space, community and the arts; architectural conservation, urban renewal and place making; Ecology restoration, landscape and environment planning; and urban infrastructure, mobility and risk preparedness. The organizers have invited experts from the relevant fields to dwell and discuss in Kashmir context. The experts have had a detailed city tour during which they saw the heritage and cultural symbols.

Insiders in the government said that while the tourism ministry has literally both hands full with the funds, the expenditure has been linked to creating more awareness about the requirements of a particular design and architecture that would take care of ecological and cultural aspect of the place. It is possible that some of the shabby structures created with the public investment may have a facelift so that it symbolises part of Kashmir’s cultural identity.

“This exercise is first of its kind and should be seen as part of capacity building,” one official said. “This is probably being done for the first time in the valley with intention of sharing and instilling new and innovative developmental practices with the architects, engineers and planners of the state for giving a flip and excellence to the process.”Organizers see it as a process of “re-imagining Kashmir” and taking into account Kashmir’s fragile and vulnerable ecologies through new sustainable and progressive tourism development.

Apart from all the tourism related professionals, managers and engineers, the workshop is being participated by Tasaduq Mufti, the cinematographer, who joined the party his father has founded, recently. Sources said that Tasaduq is keen that the process takes off so that ecological vandalism being carried out at the cost of the public money halts and takes a positive course. He is reported to have spoken about it in the inaugural session. He has already founded an NGO Arasta to oversee the development blending with the ecology, culture and heritage of the place. Already, the old silk factory has been declared a heritage site at a time when it was literally being demolished to pave way for new offices. Off late, the basic municipal issues are also being tackled that includes clearing the rivers and water channels from the plastic mess.

Those invited for interaction from outside teh state include Chitra Vishwanath, Dhruv C Sood, Varendra Wakhloo, Sidharth and Raman Vig, Manav Bhargave, Anubha Kakroo, Arijit Sengupta, Manish Guttman, Saleem Begh, Gurmeet Rai, Mansi Sahu, Ashwariya Tipnis,  Akshay Kaul, Ketaki Ghate, Sidharat S Rao, Pankaj Vir Muller, Anuj Malhotra, and Rahul Dalal. The event is concluding on Tyesday, February 27, organizers said.


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