Families ask govt to shift them elsewhere
By Riyaz Bhat
Srinagar: The families residing around the base of Pantha Chowk hill have asked authorities to shift them to safer places as loose rocks from the hill are endangering their lives and houses.
Blasting in the stone quarries, though now halted, has left the hills unstable making loose rocks roll down.
Last month, a big boulder rolled down and hit the house of a one Irshada Begum of Pantha Chowk. The family had a narrow escape while the house was badly damaged. Many houses have been hit in the past too.
Soon after the latest incident, more than 50 families submitted applications to revenue authorities asking them to shift them to safer places.
“We visited the DC office Srinagar asking for land in safer places, as we are living here under high risk and threat of falling rocks. So far we haven’t yet got any reply or information from the concerned authorities and we appeal the authorities for the quick action for this matter,” said Abdul Qayoom Bhat of Pantha-Chowk.
On 25 January, Irshada Begum witnessed a large boulder break through a wall of her house at the base of the hill.
“If we had not left our home at the right time, that is when the small stones started falling, we could have died. Now we don’t want to live here as it is very unsafe,” said Irshada.
The room which was hit and damaged by the boulder housed her daughter Shaheena Jan’s tailoring workshop – the main source of income for the family.
“I had taken taking loans to buy a sewing machine by which I tried to earn the livelihood of my family, but I lost all that. Now we don’t have any source of income and we want rehabilitation,” Shaheena said.
Local residents have handed over the list of the families living around the base of the hill to authorities seeking urgent redress.
Naib Tehsildar Pantha-Chowk Ghulam Rasool told Kashmir Reader that blasting in stone quarries was the major reason for the stones falling from the mountain.
“Now the families have given us a list of the 62 families who are living under the slopes and we have forwarded the list to DC Office Srinagar.” Rasool said.
“However the blasting has been stopped from the date the government put a ban for blasting in quarries under SRO 105 and nowadays only only loose materials from the quarries is being allowed to collect,” he adds.