Illegal Constructions

Illegal Constructions
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As the city limits become circumscribed and as there is pressure on urban habitats and land, unethical and illegal construction activity is taking place in the precincts of Srinagar and perhaps in many parts of Kashmir. This kind and type of activity can only happen with the connivance of unscrupulous elements within the administration. This is as bad as can be given that it not only adds pressure to urban zones and habitats but also makes a mockery of zoning laws and what have you. It is a statement of fact to say that population and demographic pressures have led to and created a lot of stress on land. As this kind of pressure has grown, so has the need for habitats. Complementing this has been the breakdown of the joint family system in Kashmir which has meant proliferation of families and their break down. All these, in conjunction, have meant more and more pressure on land and need for dwellings. There is also the element and factor of greed involved here. Unscrupulous elements , whether they want to build shopping complexes, or shops or business establishments have and to take recourse to building these in proscribed and prohibited places. Sometimes, they get away with it as they are patronized by political honchos. This odious practice needs to must stop for , at the end of the day, it is our urban spaces and the health of the environment that is at stake. The definition of illegal is either too elastic here or flouting these is too easy. Either way, what gets hampered and affected negatively are our urban landscapes, environment and, at times, even public health. To prevent or even pre-empt further degradation and abuse of our urbanscapes, it is imperative that zoning and other related and allied laws not merely stay in books as notional ones to be abused and misused at will but actually imparted vigour. This means strict monitoring, vigil and enforcement of green zones and other areas which are proscribed for building purposes. In the final analysis, poor urbanization and the politics of patronage thereof have created an urban mess in Srinagar, in particular, and across Kashmir, in general. Srinagar city, alas, cannot, be restored to pristine form but surely a salvage job can be done to preserve and maintain what we have. It is about time that attention and energy be devoted to this.