‘Rehabilitation of Dal dwellers an unending process’

‘Rehabilitation of Dal dwellers an unending process’

Srinagar: It has been decades since Ghulam Rasool, living in interiors of Dal Lake has been have been hearing of the “relocation plans of the government” for Dal dwellers.
“My father often talked about these plans. Father died at the age of 75 and I have also spent more than forty-five years of my life here,” Rasool said, while remarking that rehabilitation and relocation of Dal Dewellers was not the final solution for saving Dal Lake of Srinagar.
“Rehabilitation is an unending process,” he added.
Relocation of inhabitants living in the interiors of Dal Lake has been central to several conservation projects aimed to protect the water body. The projects, several funded by the Government of India, have run into tens of crores of rupees, however, the relocation still remains a far fetched goal.
Hundreds of families have been rehabilitated at Rakhi Arth, a colony set up by land filling another wetland.
“We are three brothers and among them I am the only on rehabilitation list as only my name is in the survey list,” Rasool said, while enumerating problems with rehabilitation process.
“My two brothers are living nearby but they are not in list as at the time of survey they were unmarried. Where will they go? They will continue to live at the place they are presently living.”
Several Dal dwellers, Kashmir Reader talked to, said they had no problems in making way for the government projects, but “the problem is that the administration wants to dump us”.
“They did not listen to our problems. Earlier, one of my relatives was rehabilitated in Rakhi Arth colony. They are living a miserable life there. From past 30 years, the work is confined to papers and on ground nothing is happening,” said Lateef, a resident of Moti Mohalla in Dal.
The inhabitants say they are grappled with miseries, as they are caught in the logjam of projects, which are unable to provide proper rehabilitation, while putting restrictions at the places they live.
“We have a century-old ownership of this land. We can’t build or repair any houses and now we are scrambled in a small room with no proper cover,” said Amin Ahmand Langoo, another Dal dweller.
“Neither does the government rehabilitate us nor do we have any future here. See the condition of my house. Now if we want to repair or reconstruct house we have to get permission from LAWDA, which they don’t give. That is why we are forced to do this in illegal way. What else we do,” he said.
Protests against LAWDA’s demolition squads are common in the area, residents said.
While the authorities accuse residents of encroachment and polluting Dal Lake, locals, on the other hand, accuse administration, political parties and successive governments for creating a system “marred by corruption, extortion and infinite violations”.
As per the officials records, in 1986 a survey identified 2532 structures for rehabilitation, and in 2004, 631 more structures have been identified. Out of these, families from 615 structures were rehabilitated in eight colonies, with 428 structure in Rakhi Arth colony.
Even as per the 1986 survey, 5016 families are yet to be rehabilitated, according to officials in LWWDA.
An official told Kashmir Reader more than 8300 family need to be rehabilitated, while families from Ashai Bagh were not in the list.
He said the number is increasing because at the time of survey many are living with their parents and now they are living separately.
Earlier this month, a three-member expert-panel appointed by High Court of Jammu and Kashmir suggested construction of a modern township for Dal Dwellers, at Rakhiarth Housing Colony, with proper facilities and 3/1 flats rather than a plot.
On the other side government is also planning to shift Dal dwellers somewhere where their livelihood is not impacted.
At a recent meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, it was informed that the Dal dwellers were reluctant to move to Rakh-i-Arth and instead insisting on suitable land adjacent to Dal for their rehabilitation.
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Shahid Choudhary informed the meeting that in village Baghi-Chandpora, land has been acquired in patches.
He said in order to maintain its continuity and make it useable, around 62 kanals 07 Marlas 136 sfts of land that was earlier de-notified for acquisition by LAWDA, needs to be acquired.
Beside this DC also informed that around 200-250 kanals of land are available at Shalimar which can be acquired for the rehabilitation of Dal dwellers.