Tenders cancelled for CCTV cameras to check illegal construction at Dal, Nigeen lakes

Srinagar: The conservation of Dal and Nigeen lakes, for which the J&K High Court has been issuing one order after another, is being hampered not just by the government’s failure to relocate the people who live in and around the lakes, but also by bureaucratic inefficiency.
A Committee of Experts constituted by the High Court to suggest ways of conserving the lakes had in a meeting with the then Divisional Commissioner Baseer Ahmad Khan recommended the setting up of CCTV cameras to keep watch on illegal construction. The Divisional Commissioner agreed and tasked the Lakes and Water Development Authority (LAWDA) with doing so.
The authority then duly issued tenders for the work of installing CCTV cameras, not once but several times, but the tenders were issued without following the due process and without any budgetary provisions made for the work.
As a result, all the tenders have been cancelled.
In the meeting with the Committee of Experts that Khan chaired, the Enforcement Wing of LAWDA was directed to furnish a list of locations where checkpoints were required to stop the supply of construction material to areas near the Dal and Nigeen lakes. It was decided that the CCTV cameras be installed at all these locations.
However, as per an official document, “It has been observed that tenders for some work have been issued without accord of Administration approval and Technical sanction. It has also been observed that some tenders have been invited indicating the position of funds as Demanded.”
The documents further reads that this act on part of the tender-inviting authority is in violation of standing instructions issued by the government and codal provisions, as the tenders can only be issued in respect of such work which have budgetary provision duly approved by the competent authority.
This bureaucratic inefficiency is on top of the basic problem that has remained unsolved for decades now, that of the relocation of people who live in and along the Dal and Nigeen lakes. Only a few hundred families have been shifted so far to the Rakh-e-Arth housing colony and eight other colonies set up for their relocation.
According to the official data, more than 8,300 families are still residing in and along the Dal lake. They and other people are raising concrete structures in areas that have been long been declared as no-construction zones.
The Enforcement squad of LAWDA at times demolishes the concrete structures but it has little deterrent or permanent effect.
“Recently, the squad seized a tipper vehicle that was carrying construction material to the Dal. But the people will again resume construction after a while. Perhaps if the CCTV cameras are installed, we may be able to stop the illegal construction,” said an official in LAWDA.
Feroz Mir, Executive Engineer at LAWDA, told Kashmir Reader that Administration approval and Technical sanction are the main problems with the CCTV project. “Apart from that, the lack of funds is also a major problem,” Mir said.

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