Renovation of Ghats along Jhelum River in Srinagar undertaken

SRINAGAR: Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar have taken up an ambitious project to renovate about 40 ‘ghats’ as part of the Jhelum riverfront development project to restore them to their old glory.
As part of the project, under the aegis of the Srinagar Smart City Project, 20 ghats on the Jhelum River here have been restored so far.
The initiative aims to preserve these heritage sites and revive these important public spaces, reconnect the city with the river and develop infrastructure to support water transport.
Apart from being places to socialise, the ghats were important for business as well, which was done through the water transport system.
“As per the riverfront development project beyond Amira Khadal to Chattabal we have around 40 ghats. Those used to be important public places and also for water transportation. Twenty of them have been restored and we will inaugurate them in a few days,” chief executive officer (CEO), Srinagar Smart City Project, Athar Amir Khan said here.
He said the ghats helped people to connect and socialise.
“They were also used for water transportation. We are working and many of these ghats are also getting converted into boarding and deboarding points for water transportation,” Khan added.
Bilal Ahmad Dar, a washerman, who works at one of such ghats, said their renovation was essential.
“Ghats have significant importance as it generates employment for those who work at ghats. Renovation of ghats is essential as they are quite damaged. This step was much needed as it will help people like us to earn a livelihood. If the government will work more on ghats, it will bring in more benefits,” he said.
Another washerman, Showkat Ahmad Dar, who washes shawls at one of the ghats over the river, said Kashmiri Pandits used to perform rituals at such places.
“Repairing ghats is very important and they should be cleaned properly,” he said.
The ghats were once the backbone of the people of Kashmir as they used to live and do trade at ghats.
“In Srinagar, the artwork of Kashmir is dependent on these ghats. Significant mosques, shrines and temples are on the bank of the Jhelum River. A number of ghats have been renovated as it was an important step because it added up beauty,” he said.
Mushtaq Ahmad Beig, senior supervisor at Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), said for 40 years river ghats were non-functional, but now due to the Srinagar Smart City Project, they have been renovated.
“Heritage is preserved through these ghats and authorities are planning to run cruises in Jhelum river for which ghats will serve more purpose. In order to promote tourism, renovation of ghats is a good step,” he said.
The renovation is also operated in the traditional way to showcase heritage. Some more work like benches are to be installed as well. When river transport will get started, their importance and use will be amplified,” Beig added.
Rashid Rahil, a historian, said the renovation of ghats is a huge step in revitalising Kashmir’s heritage.
“In the current governor rule, many ghats have been renovated under the Srinagar Smart City Project. But, water transport has not been brought to life yet. If authorities get successful in reviving water transport and the traditional heritage of ghats, then it will be a remarkable thing. It will be a huge step in revitalising Kashmir’s heritage. It is a welcome step,” Rahil said. (Agencies)