“The ultimate resource in economic development is people. It is the people, not capital or raw material that develop an economy“
Jammu & Kashmir is observing the 4th year of abrogation of its special constitutional status of Article 370, and the bifurcation and downgrading of the state into two union territories. The state has witnessed remarkable changes such as reduction in stone pelting and the evil of terrorism, one such area where the change is felt is the development of infrastructure in the state. It seems that the past era is over now, these days a mere slogan is landing people in jail. Separatist leaders whose entire political capital was based on shutdown calls & protests have been pushed into oblivion. It is because of these stringent actions taken by the government that other things like infrastructure development, sports events, continuous running of schools are possible.
Talking about Sopore town proper, it is a Sub-district of Baramulla which is situated 48.3km NW of Srinagar and 19.2 km SE of district HQ Baramulla. It follows the Panchayat system, in which the people represent their points to the Panch which can be further projected to the BDC (Block Development Committee). BDC can then allocate the funds for the project. If the project is of large scale, then sanctions are taken from DDC (District Development Committee). The BDC and DDC forms part of the LADA (Local Area Development Authority), which is responsible for the overall development of the area.
Sopore has a unique character of being a town with apple orchards within the town and its surroundings. In the recent past, the town has been growing in unplanned and uncontrolled manner resulting into increase in pressure on land. Therefore, with a view to improve quality of life, the town planning organization, intended to prepare the master plan for Sopore. The main objectives of the master plan are future growth in a planned manner, broad land use pattern considering the potential growth and emerging needs of the area, facilitate commercial, industrial, residential, tourism, recreational & other investment and evolve effective implementation and financial strategy.
A major positive development post abrogation of Article 370 has been the massive budgetary allocation to the newly carved out UT, due to which development projects has gained momentum. The people of the region are now getting full benefits of the center’s scheme such as ‘Swachchh Bharat Abhiyan‘, ‘Ujjwal Yojna‘, ‘Ayushman Yojna’, ‘Direct Benefit Transfer and food subsidy in a transparent manner. The Union Home Ministry and Ministry of Agriculture directed that the apple producing towns of Kashmir Valley such as Sopore, Shopian etc. will be benefitted by direct procurement of apple by the centre. Also, in this case the state is responsible for the Direct Benefit Transfer of money into the bank accounts of the apple growers. All kind of apples will be purchased from the designated Mandi of Sopore, Shopian & Srinagar.
The vision for Sopore town is to develop it as a major Mandi town of Kashmir Valley and to develop it as an emerging centre for value added industries & hub of agro based food processing industries. Apart from this, to evolve the city structure of Sopore, it has already been divided into planning zones (total 6) based on major corridor of development along road converging into town. Recently, the industrial estates in Sopore i.e., Bagh-e-Islam & Doabgah had witnessed major development in terms of steel fabrications, concrete blocks manufacturing, soap manufacturing etc. Also a food park (10.16 hectare) is being established at Doabgah. Then, there are more number of joinery units operating in town and more are coming up. Besides the major industries, Sopore has other household industries which has seen development in recent past, those includes mustard seeds oil extraction, cotton ginning, furniture, bakeries, printing press etc. Moreover, small bricks manufacturing units also exist near river Jhelum which manufacture around 10-12 lakhs bricks annually. The most important factor which needs more attention for the overall development of Sopore is improvement in connectivity i.e., road network. Physical growth of Sopore is along transportation corridor, thus there is a need of uplifting the transportation sector. For a good urban health, road network and related infrastructure is most important. The existing land use study is important to analysis for this.