More than 100 structures have come up in Mawura and Yanner areas despite high court ban; departments engage in blame game
Mawura (Pahalgam): Last week, Congress party held a meeting in an illegally-constructed hotel in Pahalgam. A former bureaucrat, Shameem Laharwal, who was sacked along with dozens of other “corrupt” officials by the government recently, and a government employee, are its owners. The meeting of a political party, many pointed out, was a sign of the patronage Laharwal had enjoyed and which he used to amass wealth.
The 50-room hotel is one of the dozens that have been constructed illegally in Mawura and Yanner areas along the Lidder river in this tourist spot.
In 2010, the high court banned new constructions in Pahalgam. Mawura and Yanner were virgin and tranquil places then. Since the two areas were not under the jurisdiction of the Pahalgam Development Authority, a horde of politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen purchased land and started constructions.
Only four hotels—Hotel Fresh Water, Hotel Grand Mehnaz, Green Resort and New Tulip— are legally registered, while more than a 100 structures have been built before and after the court ban.
When the tourism department sealed the illegal hotels, restaurants and huts last year, the previous government pressurized the officials to go slow.
“These illegal hotels do not have No Objection Certificate from the PDA to qualify for registration. But revenue, power, fisheries and public health engineering departments have issued them NOCs either after taking bribes or under political pressure,” said an official of the tourism department, asking for anonymity.
Early this year, the PDA woke up and sealed 28 hotels in the twin belts.
A senior official of the PDA said that a team prepared on-the-spot report about the violations but no action was initiated against these illegal structures.
The report, a copy of which was accessed by Kashmir Reader, revealed that more than 100 structures have been constructed in violation of high court orders.
The report corroborates the fact that outsiders, mainly from Srinagar (around 95 kilometers from Srinagar), have raised these structures.
These structures have been constructed on Lidder bank, and in some cases a portion of the river has been encroached upon, the report said.
Most of the owners are either relatives of politicians, government officials or influential businessmen.
The PDA blames revenue, forest, irrigation and flood control, fisheries departments for allowing these constructions on Lidder banks and forest land.
However, the constructions did not stop when the court demarcated both the areas under the PDA.
This reporter found that constructions were being carried out behind tin sheets or behind the cover of trees.
This construction spree has polluted Lidder, as the sewage from these structures flows into the river.
Chief executive officer of the PDA Riyaz Ahmad Wani said the constructions happened when Mauwra and Yanner were not under the ambit of the authority.
The report names following people from Srinagar who have constructed hotels and huts:
Two-storey hotel of Azad Ahmad, Ilyas Ahmad and Shabir Ahmad, sons of Ghulam Ahmad Bisati; a three-storey hotel owned by Mushtaq Ahmad Shahdhar; a two-storey hotel of Mohammad Ashraf Burza; a two-storey hut of Mohsin Maqbool Sofi; a two-storey hut of Suhail Ahmad Baba son of Mohammad Shafi; two-storey hut of Sajad Ahmad son of Mohammad Amin; a hut of Arshid Ahmad Bhat and a hut owned by Majid Muzaffar Shawl, Masroor Muzaffar Shawl and Owais Hussain.
Two huts of Mushtaq Ahmad and Ajaz Ahmad son of Mohammad Amin Shaida; two one-storey huts of Ashiq Hussain Banday (Rehmat Masala) of Pampore; two-storey hotel of Gulzar Ahmad Gilkar; three two-storey hotels of; two huts of Malik Gowhar and Malik Aftab; one-storey hut of Mohammad Anwar Bakshi; two huts of Mukhtar Ahmad Bazaz; a hut of Ishfaq Ahmad; a hotel and a hut of Gulzar Ahmad Khan; a hut of Fayaz Ahmad Bhat; two-storey hotel of Tariq Ahmad Bhat and Fareed Ahmad; two-storey huts each of Muneer Ahmad and Abdul Rashid; a hut of Mudasir Ahmad Bhat; three two-storey hotels of Shaista Tariq wife of Tariq Ahmad Bhat; three-storey hotel of Malik Farooq Ahmad; two three-storey hotels of Siraj-ud-din Bhat; a hut of Zahoor Ahmad of Srinagar; a hut of Dr Akhtar Hussain Gilkar; a hotel of Ajaz Ahmad Malik; a house in the shape of a hut of Mohammad Abdullah Durrani; two huts of Suhail Shora of Srinagar and a hut of Tariq Ahmad Bhat of Srinagar.
Three-storey hotel ‘Kashi resorts’ owned by Ramesh Saproo of Dal Seer; a three-storey hotel of Reyaz Ahmad Nengroo of Kular; a two-storey hotel of Muzaffar Ahmad of Wullerhama; a two-storey hotel of Mohammad Ashraf Paddar of Mattan Anantnag; a hut and a hotel of Mohammad Yusuf Patia of Mawura; a two-storey hotel of Mohammad Ismail of Hatigam; two-storey hut of Bilal Ahmad Kuchay of Barsoo, Awantipura; a three-storey hotel of Mushtaq Ahmad Kenoo of Anantnag; a hut of Ghulam Qadir Bagoo of Bijebehara Anantnag; a hut of Mohammad Imran Sheikh of Srinagar; a hut of Arshid Ahmad Tak of Bijeheraha Anantnag; a two-storey hut of Qazi Mehraj Ahmad of Anantnag; a two-storey hut of Ghulam Mohidin and Abdul Rashid; a partially constructed hut of Fayaz Ahmad Beigh of Mir Bazar Anantnag; a three-storey hotel of Muzaffar Ali Khan and others; two-storey hut of Mohammad Yaqoob of Dirhama in Anantnag; a two-storey hotel of Bilal Ahmad Kuchay of Barsoo Awantipora.