SRINAGAR: At a time when Srinagar city craves for relocation of the congested Batamaloo bus stand (GBS), the proposal may remain a dream as scores of hutments have come up at the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) owned facility at Parimpora on the Srinagar outskirts.
Nine months after government announced the shifting of GBS to Truck Terminal at Parimpora, the proposal has hit yet another roadblock as temporary hutments constructed in the garb of flood rehabilitation have not been dismantled till date turning it a full fledged slum.
The flood affected families from Srinagar city were shifted to Parimpora on temporary basis. “Hutments erected for the affected families are still standing and have not been dismantled till date,” admitted Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) Vice Chairman Tahseen Mustafa.
“I have spoken to district authorities to shift the hutments on priority basis, but nothing has been done so far. It’s actually hampering to kick-start the process (of shifting),” Mustafa said.
However there are political connotations to the whole issue, which is delaying the shifting of the GBS to Parimpora.
Officials said it all started in 2014 post September floods, when a politician wielding influence in the Batamaloo constituency, where the twin bus stands lie, lobbied to “rehabilitate some of the flood victims from his vote bank” at the new bus stand.
Officials said as the campaigning for the Assembly elections started, a then middle-rung official at the SDA helped the politician “persuade” the then SDA VC and other officials to allow the conversion of the bus stand into the rehabilitation camp for the victims of his constituency.
To come up with the constructions, the authorities roped in services of some NGOs, who initially constructed some two dozen prefabricated structures for the flood affected families.
But the process didn’t end there. By the time elections concluded and new government was in place, scores of new structures came up at Parimpora bus stand till the government facility graduated into a full-fledged slum.
But then, how was the Parimpora facility converted into a slum. Sources said two years ago the politician managed “improving ties” with the SDA through one of the officials who was acting like his political worker there. “The politician held a Wazwan party for the SDA employees through him asking them to lend him their support in the upcoming elections. Those who showed any signs of hesitation were subsequently booked under a concocted case at police station Parimpora,” said a source privy to the “counseling”.
Another hurdle in the shifting process is construction of road from Parimpora bus stand to National highway.
“Once the connectivity road is constructed, we will be starting the first phase of shifting,” Tahseen said.
Meanwhile reacting sharply to government’s move of shifting Batamaloo general bus stand to Parimpora, families putting up in the temporary hutments have threatened to go for an indefinite strike if alternate land was not provided to them.
“After floods, district authorities asked us to stay in Parimpora for six months. It has been two years now and we have not been shifted,” said Lateef Ahmad, a resident.
General Bus Stand at Batamaloo (GBS) is a chronic traffic jamming point in Srinagar and its shifting to Parimpora is aimed at streamlining vehicular movement at Batamaloo and its adjoining areas. It also envisages providing better transport facilities to the people of North Kashmir districts of Baramulla, Kupwara and Bandipora.
However, Bus unions including Western Bus Service Union and Haji Peer Transport Company (HPTC) are opposing the move saying shifting of GBS to Parimpora will prove devastative to the transport business.
“There are 20, 000 shops around Batamaloo, the shifting of bus stand will hamper their business. It will hurt people linked to transport as well,” General Secretary HPTC Mohammad Yousuf told Kashmir Reader.