With the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir relatively stable, the municipal corporations in Pune and Srinagar are planning to resume work to give shape to the first-of-its-kind ‘sister city’ agreement finalised by the two in 2008. That would mean that the two corporations would work together, help each other out, and learn from each other’s experiences in carrying out civic projects, and improve the civic standards in their respective cities.
“The two municipal corporations had signed an MoU in 2008 but there has not been much progress in achieving its goals due to the prevailing situation. Now, the situation in Srinagar is much more conducive to strengthen the bond between the two cities and help each other in development activities,” said Pune Mayor Murlidhar Mohol.
He said the removal of Article 370 has led to a situation in Srinagar that will enable the two civic bodies to make most out of the ‘sister city’ agreement.
“The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has sought help from Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) in developing the Mughal Garden on Sinhagad Road. Also, Pune has a junction named Pune-Kashmir Maitri Chowk in Katraj depicting the friendship between the two cities. The civic body in Pune has taken up a beautification drive in a big way, and this would include putting up of murals to display cultural unity of both the cities,” Mohol said.
The PMC would provide its expertise to SMC on improving public transport systems, sewage treatment, solid waste management and metro rail projects. “The SMC will gain from the development experience of the PMC. There will be exchange of technical expertise, technical guidance and consultations,” he added.
Pune is also home to several Kashmiris, both from Jammu as well as the Valley. A large number of Kashmiri students are enrolled in the city’s educational institutions.
City-based NGO Sarhad has been active in strengthening the bond between Pune and Srinagar. Sarhad founder Sanjay Nahar said, “The MoU between the two cities led to visits of delegations of both the cities in each other’s area. The SMC has been trying to take expertise in solid waste management and storm water drainage but there have been limitations due to the situation over there in the past. It is now changing and there was a need to revive the association to strengthen the bond.”
Sarhad has been taking responsibility of educating the kids of Jammu and Kashmir in the city and soon would be increasing the strength from 150 to 250, he said, “We want to establish an emotional bonding between the two cities. There are plans to have tie-up with local education institutions in Srinagar. Sarhad is working on organising international festivals in Jammu and Kashmir and a Pune-Srinagar literary festival.”
Nahar said he has requested the PMC to provide a place in the city exclusively for setting up exhibition cum sale of handicrafts and other products of Jammu and Kashmir.
A lot of citizens from the city have been visiting Srinagar for tourism, he said, “The PMC can work with SMC to ensure all possible help for citizens visiting the city. The revival would just be the beginning and a lot could be initiated among two cities for the welfare of their citizens.”
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