PAHALGAM: Ghulam Nabi Raina of Laripora Pahalgam has four sons and a daughter. Three of his sons are married and live separately. At the time of separation the trio had decided to construct separate houses but eight years have passed, the four families continue to live like cattle in a three roomed house at the verge of collapse as the authorities refuse to grant them permission for construction.
“The denial of permission by the authorities concerned for the construction of even a small shelter has forced all of us to live like cattle. I have three children including a daughter and all of us have to sleep in a room which doubles as kitchen,” Raina’s son Gulzar Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.
The high court imposed ban on constructions and repairs in Pahalgam in 2010 in response to the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a local group, Pahalgam People’s Welfare Association. However despite the ban many influential hoteliers managed to either construct additional blocks to the hotels or carried out major repairs.
Raina said that the living conditions of his two other brothers are equally miserable due to the non-availability of proper shelter. “All of us are virtually homeless. In case of minor showers rainwater enters into all rooms. We have been begging before the PDA authorities for permission for the construction of shelter from last seven years but they continue to deny it,” Raina said.
The non-availability of the house, he said, has even become the barrier in the marriage of their younger brother and sister.
“Our younger brother and sister have attained the marriageable age but being houseless we cannot think of their marriage,” he said.
Raina family is not alone bearing the brunt of the ban imposed by the court on constructions but there are dozens of families desperately waiting for permissions for the construction of residential houses.
“Our family of six has just two rooms to live in. My younger brother has been sleeping in a hotel room we own in the town. The PDA authorities have been denying us the permission for construction of the house despite our repeated pleas for the same,” Ahmad said.
The locals allege that they are being punished for respecting the court directive banning constructions.
“We can show you many huge commercial structures having been raised by the influential and rich hoteliers in many areas falling within the ambit of PDA but respecting the court directive we have been seeking proper permission for construction of shelter, constantly being denied to us. The PDA authorities even pleaded the cases of hoteliers in court after entering into deal with them but they cannot see the miseries locals have been facing,” Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.
Locals also blamed the PDA for causing unnecessary delay in submitting the details to the court with regard to the areas designated as green and non-green in new master plan on the basis of which the ban will be withdrawn.