2-day seminar on ‘urban spaces’ concludes at KU; Experts, academics discuss range of topics

Srinagar A two-day ICSSR-sponsored national seminar on “Creating Inclusive and Sustainable Urban Spaces: Urbanisation and Urban Planning in India with a reference to Kashmir” concluded at the University of Kashmir on Tuesday.

Dean Research KU Prof Irshad Ahmad Nawchoo was the chief guest at the valedictory session, while Prof Gull Mohammad Wani and Dr Jagan Shah, former director of National Institute of Urban Affairs, were the guests of honour.

The seminar was inaugurated by Vice Chancellor Prof Nilofer Khan on Monday.

The Dean Research in his presidential address while congratulating the organisers for bringing together experts and researchers from different disciplines stressed on adopting interdisciplinary approach to deal with issues like urbanization.

Prof. Gull Mohammad Wani, while emphasising on the nature and contours of urbanisation in South Asia, laid stress on balancing between infrastructure building and heritage protection. He also emphasised on framing urban policies which are futuristic and also urged for creating public spaces for dialogue and discussion on crucial issues like urbanisation.

Dr Jagan Shah summarised the main points highlighted during the deliberations across various technical sessions.

Dr Aijaz Ashraf Wani, seminar coordinator, presented a vote of thanks.

Academicians from IIT Delhi, AUD, IIPA Delhi, CRID Chandigarh, ATREE Bangalore, NIUA Delhi, IMPA&RD Srinagar participated in the seminar and presented their research on Urban planning and development in the context of India.

Policy practitioners including Mr. Ather Amir Khan, IAS, Commissioner SMC and Dr Ghulam Nabi Qasba, former Commissioner SMC provided the practitioners’ perspectives about the ongoing developmental projects in Srinagar city.

During six technical sessions, over a dozen papers were presented examining topics pertaining urban development and provided policy and scholarly proposals for creating planned inclusive urban environments.

The purpose of the seminar was to build a framework for inclusive urbanism considering the rapid growth and urban development of cities.

The need to incorporate Himalayan knowledge and study the policy mechanisms of other areas was one key focus of the seminar.

In order to make cities dynamic and visible, it was recognised that policy communication must be improved, and in this line, such seminars provide scholars and policy practitioners a chance to discuss the direction of this development.

The seminar emphasised the issues posed by climate change in urban environments and explained the effects these changes have on various topographies.

Sustainable urban mobility emerged to be one of the focal areas.
Recognising the need to discuss urbanization processes in Himalayan cities and the rapid changes in these places, the loss of commons, changing land uses, the expansion of infrastructure, and water shortages in Himalayan towns, it was recognized that the improving institutional capacity needs to be incorporated into policymaking across the board. While appreciating the initiatives taken by the government from time to time for planned and sustainable development of urban areas as well as improving governance and service delivery, the seminar while recognising the dynamic nature of the issue stressed for collective efforts by all stakeholders to deal with the challenges posed by rapid urbanisation and turn it into an opportunity.

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