SRINAGAR: Residents of Ashai Bagh and Saida Kadal on Wednesday protested against LAWDA’s demolition drive alleging that the agency has a “biased approach” on hotels in the area. The protesters said that they had been living in the area for over 40 years, but now the government had initiated a demolition drive and was dismantling their houses while remaining silent on illegal hotels constructed on the Dal Lake over the years.
“Authorities are favouring and saving the big hotels, why don’t they dismantle them first,” asked a protester. While blaming LAWDA officials for providing permission to construct houses, they said they now had nowhere else to go. “If our houses are illegal and it is encroachment, why did previous officers provide us permission for construction and how have big hotels been constructed here over the years?” he asked.
The protesters said politicians and officials have constructed big hotels in the Dal Lake area and now when the court has directed LAWDA to clear the encroachments, instead of dismantling the hotels of rich people, the authorities “are dismantling homes of poor people who don’t have a voice and can’t resist them”.
When contacted, Vice Chairman LAWDA Sarmad Hafiz completely denied allegations of favouring any sections. “These are false reports, we haven’t dismantled houses yet,” he said.
“It is the land mafia that is spreading these rumours to mislead the people. For us, any construction on the Dal is illegal encroachment and is a violation of the law, we don’t favour anyone,” he added.