Srinagar: Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Asghar Samoon has sought a detailed report from the Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), regarding commercial complexes that have come up in the city in the recent past. The report has been sought to see if the buildings conform to the building permissions, master plan and other laws in vogue.
Samoon’s direction followed a PowerPoint presentation by Chief Town Planner Srinagar regarding some building violations at a meeting of Urban Transport Environment Improvement Committee (UTEIC) on March 1. “It was a cursory exercise and it (PowerPoint presentation) was about some structures which were visible to us. There are actually a large number of violations,” Iftikhar Ahmad Hakim, Chief Town Planner, told Kashmir Reader.
It was learnt that some of the buildings that came up for discussion during the presentation included a Hyundai showroom at Bypass, a Mahindra showroom at Bypass, a big building coming up near Tengpora Bridge, a structure near Chevrolet showroom, a Jamkash Vehicleads building, structures near Hyderpora flyover, buildings near Afandi Bagh Sanatnagar. Some violations were also recorded near a Ford showroom on Bypass, Sanat Nagar Chowk, Chanapora Bridge, Masjid Sharief Nowgam Chowk, Pohru Chowk and British Public School building near Srinagar railway station. Structures on Maulana Azad Road, buildings near Badshah bridge, Barzulla bridge, IG Road Parraypora, including JK Bank building, Peerbagh bridge and railway bridge Humhama are also on the list.
“All or most of these structures lack Urban Transport Environment Improvement Committee (UTEIC) approval. But they are not the only structures which have been apparently constructed in violation (of laws),” Hakim said. He said there are large-scale violations and the government has already compiled a detailed report following a Public Interest Litigation.
“In 2014, the Urban Development Department constituted a committee and documented around 2,000 to 3,000 violations in Srinagar. What we showed in the presentation was just a cursory exercise and these structures which seem to us as a violation may not be actually so. As such the SMC Commissioner was asked for a report by the Divisional Commissioner,” he said.
While responding to a query about the time needed by him to file the report sought by the Divisional Commissioner before initiating “tough action” against the violators, Commissioner SMC Bashir Ahmed Khan told Kashmir Reader: “We are in the process of identifying (the violators). We have, in fact, ‘seen something’ but it will take us some days to file the reply (before the Divisional Commissioner).”
In a bid to avoid Master Plan violations and gear-up planned development of Srinagar City, the government in 2013 clipped the SMC’s wings by deciding that building permission cases be decided by the UTEIC having members from various concerned departments including police. It was decided that UTEIC must keep “an extra eye” on constructions. The same year, the High Court ordered sealing of illegal constructions and asked the government to come up with a policy decision on these structures.
The then-government headed by National Conference came up a legislation— J&K Civic Laws (Special Provisions) Act 2014— whereby a moratorium was imposed against the sealing of thousands of unauthorised constructions that existed in the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu besides Katra, a small town in Udhampur district of the state.
However, the provisions of the Act will not protect under-construction structures or buildings which had not been completed on the date of commencement of the Act (March 5, 2014) or were constructed after it. The Act will also not apply on buildings and structures constructed on public land, roads or other public utility and also on constructions not complying with safety measures.
The Act was enacted so that a comprehensive policy could be formulated to tackle the issue of violations by the end of March 2015. Later, the date was extended till the end of the December last year. The present status of the legislation is not known.