SRINAGAR: Taking undue advantage of the curfew in Kashmir, unscrupulous elements have been raising illegal structures in the restricted zone of Dal Lake, in violation of the High Court orders.
LAWDA, a government body for preventing illegal constructions in the restricted zone, has failed to stop the illegal constructions despite complaints registered by locals.
In Baroo mohallah and Abi Karpora areas that fall under the Khanyar police station, a person named Mohammad Shafi began to raise illegal structures soon after the uprising began. A local Mohammad Yaqoob Mir spotted it and registered a complaint in the LAWDA office.
“Following the complaint, an FIR was lodged in police station Khanyar on August 24. But nothing happened afterwards. The illegal construction continues,” said Mohammad Yaqoob Mir.
In the complaint submitted to secretary LAWDA, the copy of which is with Kashmir Reader, Mohammad Yaqoob Mir has said that “in connivance with the field staff of the LAWDA for raising fresh constructions on a separate plot of land … the offender has stolen an opportunity in the present unrest in the Valley of Kashmir by laying a foundation for raising the fresh building construction.”
“The area falls inside the Dal Lake and there is blanket ban on the raising of any kind of construction inside and around the Dal Lake. The field staff has been won by the offender and the field staff of LAWDA is providing all kind of assistance to the offender to raise the illegal construction on the spot,” Mir has written in the complaint.
Mir told Kashmir Reader that the High Court has given separate directions to not allow any constructions on the land on which the structure is being constructed because it is disputed between two parties.
Rampant illegal structures have been coming up in Rainawari-Saida Kadal-Foreshore Road areas and Dalgate-Nishat-Teilbal areas in the vicinities of Dal Lake since the anti-India uprising began on July 8.
Abdul Rasheed, a resident of Rainawari, said that in the interiors people have made a makeshift road in the Dal Lake connecting Kaen Kachi to Nigeen Road and no government authority has stopped them. He said that encroachers have demarcated water bodies with sand bags and filled it with earth to turn it into land for cultivation.
“At a time when construction material is short in the market, these people manage to get the material ferried into the restricted zone. They get it done in the night and leave early in the morning in small load carriers. We are now tired of complaining as nobody takes any action,” Rasheed said.
Before this makeshift road was illegally constructed, Rasheed said, the area was connected with Nigeen by a wooden bridge called Janta Kadal, while the transport took the main road. Now people use this alternate route to ferry the material, bypassing the main check points.
The JK High Court has banned new construction in the demarcated green zone to preserve the lake, which has already shrunk to 13.5 sq km from the 50 sq km it was half-a-century ago.
On August 21, the High Court had directed the state government to ensure that no illegal structure is raised in violation of the law and the court order.
In another instance, Hakeem Yaseen, another resident of Rainawari, said that many encroachers have converted their temporary houses made of corrugated sheets and wood into concrete structures.
“Although this used to happen earlier as well but since the uprising began, the frequency has increased,” he said. “You won’t believe, in just a week one temporary shed was converted into a full-fledged concrete structure with a shop in front of it. Nobody did anything.”
Secretary LAWDA Nissar Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that whenever he receives a complaint he sends it to enforcement officer Suhail Reshi to act upon.
Suhail, when contacted, said that despite violators taking advantage of the situation, demolitions have been carried out “but violators manage construction in the night time.”
“Many FIRs have been lodged. In Shafi’s case we lodged two separate FIRs. Now I have taken cognisance of this matter and action would be initiated again,” Suhail told Kashmir Reader.