‘We have no roads, schools, healthcare’
SRINAGAR: Even after rehabilitation at Rakhi Arth housing colony near Bemina, the former Dal dewellers face a stiff challenge to establish their homes on the pieces of land allotted to them. The land, they say, is marshy.
“LAWDA told us to build the houses here, but the land is not safe to build houses on. Due to land sinking, our houses have developed cracks. We are always in the fear that the walls may collapse said,” said Haji Ghulam Hussain Sofi who moved in a few years back.
The residents also complain that the area is prone to inundation. “Whenever there is rainfall, we face flood-like situation,” Sofi told Kashmir Reader.
Residents say that LAWDA also gave them a plan to construct the houses. “They give us an outline for the houses and we build accordingly. But our house has developed cracks and when we complain about it, they say we use inferior material,” said Ghulam Rasool Want, a resident of the new neigbourhood. “What they do not understand is that they constructed a bund (embankment) of the park here and same thing happen with that too. They don’t pay any heed to our problems.”
Then there are administrative problems these new residents have to deal with. “We have been caught between two district administrations – Srinagar and Budgam. For documentation, the authorities make us run from pillar to post. It is a headache for us,” Want said. The residents allege that LAWDA failed to fulfill the assurances it gave at the time of relocation. “They made several promises, but they didn’t fulfill any one of them,” said Showkat Ahmad, another resident. “At Dal, we earned our livelihood easily. Here we do not find any alternative job. LAWDA has made our life miserable. The authority promised us it will give us compensation and provide us jobs, but in reality nothing has been done.”
The residents say that they cleaned the lake when they lived in Dal. But now the travel to dal costs time and money. “This place is far from Dal. It becomes very difficult to cover a long distance,” said Showkat. “We face a lot of problems in meeting our daily needs. Here we don’t have basic facilities like roads or school, nor any health care.”
In 2007, Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA] announced to relocate Dal dwellers and rehabilitate them at Rakhiarth colony at Bemina in the outskirts of Srinagar. The colony, spread over an area of 7526 kanals, was supposed to be developed on modern lines with all basic amenities like public parks, hospitals, schools, mosques and play fields at a cost of Rs 416.72 crores. The relocation was meant to make Dal Lake encroachment-free.
According to the officials, the colony is divided into three phases – the first two phases are spread over an area of 3000 kanals each, the third phase over an area of 1526 kanals. The total number of residential plots in all the three phases add to 10600. Around 300 families have been relocated to the colony by LAWDA till now.
Speaking with Kashmir Reader, Executive Engineer Lake division first, Ramman Uppal, had a vague answer when asked about the complaints by residents. “We are working on it. When we receive reports after that we can say anything and according to that we will tell them what is the solution and for compensation we will send proposal to the government,” he said. The authority has not received proper funding for the development according to plan, Uppal said.