‘Nishat residents protest occupation’ of open ground

‘Nishat residents protest occupation’ of open ground
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SRINAGAR: Hundreds of people held a protest on Thursday at Nishat area of Srinagar demanding immediate evacuation of an open land allegedly “occupied by an influential person”.
Local residents blocked the road for traffic in Nishat market from around 11am to 2pm. “We had protested almost five times in last three weeks but the authorities have not taken any necessary steps,” said Imtiyaz Ahmad, a protestor said. Residents said that the ground located on the top side of Nishat garden was a Custodian land, and was “occupied by some influential persons recently”.
“In the first week of March few people came and began to raise a compound wall around the ground,” a resident said. “We filed a complaint with the Lakes and Water Development Authority (LAWDA) as this ground comes under their jurisdiction, but they told us that the people who have occupied the land are very influential. We were told that we are incompetent in front of them when it comes to contacts.” The residents said that in 2007 then chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had assured to develop the land into a playground for local residents.
“This land is actually a custodian land and as per law there should be an auction to the land but they haven’t even done auction to the land. When we questioned the custodian general that how he can allot the land to anyone without an auction as we are ready to take that ground on lease, he said that the auction had been held in 2003,” the protestors said. “But when we asked him for proof he had none. Indeed if he will produce authentic proof, we will rest our case.”
Another protestor said that government had recently sanctioned a hand pump on the land which took almost three months to install.
“Now they have illegally occupied that hand pump too,” he said.
He said that if the government has to provide land to the concerned person, “they should give them land at some other place, and spare this playground”.