Pahalgam: Locals allege PDA ‘selective’ in demolition drive

SHABIR AHMAD

ANANTNAG: The residents of Pahalgam have accused the Pahalgam development Authority (PDA) of being selective in its drive against illegal constructions in the area. PDA for the first time after the high court imposed the ban on constructions at the tourist spot launched a major drive against the illegal structures. In its continuous drive against for last couple of weeks, the nodal agency meant for the development of Pahalgam raised to ground around fifty illegal structures which had come up in different notified areas. Though the drive has evoked appreciation from many but the local residents and sources have questioned selective approach of the authorities in the demolition drive.
“The PDA is continuing with its demolition drive for last couple of weeks but so far it has bulldozed the illegal structures of the poor ones only. All the big guns violating the high court directives have
been spared,” a delegation of locals told Kashmir Reader.
The delegation said that at least five rich hoteliers under the garb of court permissions for minor repairs have not only completely renovated their hotels but have also constructed additional rooms. “A rich hotlier who got court permission for some minor repair has added at least five to six additional rooms to his hotel. No CEO so far dared to stop him from violating the HC orders despite the hotel being at a distance of few yards from their residential quarter,” said a resident, Mohammad Shafi. He said that another A-class hotelier in Laripora having strong political connections too under the garb of court permission for minor repair has been carrying out the construction works for last two months. “You can see around 20 laborers having been engaged by the
hotlier. If he is carrying out only minor repairs why he will need dozens of laborers for the same. The major repair work is going on in another A-class hotel situated in the main market,” Shafi said. The
locals said that they are not against the demolition of illegal structures but want the law be applied on all. ‘If authorities have started drive against illegal structures we appreciate the step but
they should adopt the same yardstick for all. It is the big hoteliers who have and are plundering the nature more than anybody else. So they should not be spared on the basis of their being rich and politically influential,” said another local, Ghulam Nabi. He said that they have decided to bring the matter into the notice of the governor within a couple of days.
Chief executive officer, PDA, M Y Bhat denied the allegations and said that the locals in an attempt to stop PDA from going for demolition are making issues. “After we started a drive some people started making issues for the interests. But their propaganda is not going to stop us from acting against violators,” CEO told Kashmir Reader. He, however, said that they are in the process of identifying all the violators. “We conducted inspection of many hotels yesterday and found
the violations talking place in some of them. We are in the process of identifying more. On Saturday you will see what we are going to do,” CEO said.