SRINAGAR: Taking undue advantage of the Lok Sabha elections underway in Kashmir, unscrupulous elements have been raising illegal structures in many areas of Srinagar city.
Commercial structures are coming up along 90 Feet Road, Nowshera, Hawal and near GD Goenka School. A major complex is under construction near a fountain at Bagh-e-Ali Mardan while another is coming up at Mill Stop.
“The encroachers might have greased the palms of the local government officials. They keep on constructing new houses after every demolition drive. All departments are busy with elections, and encroachers have taken full advantage of this. Within two days, they have completed almost one floor of the building,” said Mohamad Yousuf, a local from Hawal, speaking about an illegal construction in his neighbourhood.
“You won’t believe it, in just a week, one temporary shed was converted into a full-fledged concrete structure with a shop in front of it. Nobody did anything,” he further said.
“The concerned department is ignoring all illegal activities taking place in the city. All of them are visible, but these officials act as mute spectators. Encroachers are just erecting tin walls and tarpaulins outside their illegal buildings and inside they are carrying on with their activities. During these election days, they find a good chance to complete their work,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a local from Mill Stop.
“Basically, both parties are responsible for it. Those who are constructing the buildings and those who allow them to do so. Those who are constructing want things to be done quickly and then they approach the authorities with bribes, but they don’t understand the risk to lives they are taking while doing so,” he further said.
Acknowledging that the city officials have failed to stop the illegal constructions, an official at the Srinagar Municipal Coporation told Kashmir Reader that despite violators taking advantage of the elections, demolitions will be carried out in the coming days.
“They may manage to build their constructions, but violators have to face the law,” he said.
“Many officials are busy with election duty, and it may be that violators take advantage of that, but we will take strict action against them,” the official further said.
Most of the illegal constructions are happening in the Srinagar suburbs with officials maintaining that very few violations have been reported from the old city.
“In downtown area of Srinagar, there are less chances of illegal construction as the locals immediately complain to our department if they see that any illegal construction is happening in their locality,” he added.