SRINAGAR: Dr Sameer Kaul, a New Delhi-based Kashmiri doctor and politician, is constructing a house in violation of laws in an area close to Dal Lake here.
The multi-storey residential structure is being constructed close to the stream Sharab Kul, and it falls in the area declared non-permissible for constructions by the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), the government body dedicated to preservation of water bodies.
LAWDA officials admit that Dr Kaul, who is also ‘National Spokesperson’ of opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), is illegally constructing the house. They, however, pass the buck.
“The construction had started before I took charge of the area about a month ago. But yes the house is being constructed in non-permissible area, though not in the Green Belt. We are looking into the details as to how this house is being constructed in the prohibited zone,” LAWDA’s Enforcement Officer, Sikander Khan, told Kashmir Reader on Tuesday.
All types of constructions in the areas close to water bodies or forests have been banned in the state since LAWDA came into existence in the late ‘90s. Accordingly, a large portion of Srinagar has been declared ‘non-permissible’ or ‘Green Belt’, the space which government aims to keep green by disallowing constructions.
However, many influential people, mostly affiliated with pro-India political parties including the ruling National Conference, PDP and Congress, don’t give a damn to the laws banning constructions in the ‘Green Belt’ while the LAWDA’s once-in-a-while demolition drive is mainly targeted at the ‘poor’ people.
Dr Kaul’s house, LAWDA officials say, was earlier demolished partially. But its reconstruction has started only recently following the government ordinance on letting free the illegally-built structures for a year.
“We have decided to demolish a part of the under-construction structure. Besides, instructions have been passed to the house owner to stop the work forthwith,” Khan said.
LAWDA’s vice-chairman Irfan Yaseen feigned ignorance about the issue. “I have no information. I will confirm,” he said.
Dr Kaul claimed he was only repairing the structure that existed at the spot earlier. “That house was there since 1974. Its roof and fence was broken, so I am repairing it. The house has government permission, water supply, power supply, everything,” Dr Kaul told Kashmir Reader.