2009 Govt. report on city master plan violations was shelved

Report said 2500 structures in Srinagar city were raised in violation of master plan by 2009

SRINAGAR: There were 2500 structures in Srinagar which were raised in violation of Master Plan guidelines; reveals a report prepared by a high level committee that was constituted by the government four years ago. 

Out of these 2500 illegal structures, the report says that 1100 had come up even without any permission and in gross violation of Master Plan, sources in SMC reveal.

The report prepared by the high level committee comprising of additional commissioner Kashmir, Vice Chairman Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), Commissioner Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), DC Srinagar, Chief Engineer R&B and Special Secretary Housing and Urban Development was submitted to the government in time but the reason why this report was shelved and no follow-up action taken on the recommendations remains a mystery.

“This committee was framed under the order number 159-HUD of 2009 dated November 24, 2009. The committee identified 2500 structures which had come up in violation of Master Plan norms. This report stands submitted before the government, House committee and the High Court,” KNS quoting sources said. It further said that this report has disclosed many startling facts. 

“This report says that almost all automobile showrooms in the city especially set up on Nowgam bypass road have come up in gross violation of Master Plan norms. Owner of an automobile showroom in this area had got permission for establishing a poultry farm. Instead of establishing a poultry farm, he raised an automobile showroom and a service station using the same permission,” well placed sources said.

Pertinently, the Srinagar Master Plan is applicable to a total of  417 square kilometer area and out of this 160 square kilometres are looked after by Srinagar Development Authority (SDA).  Rest of the square kilometres comes under the jurisdiction of SMC. 

Sources further said that both the executing and implementing agencies of the Master Plan had issued notices 1100 violators but to no avail. Sources said there was no follow-up action after issuing these notices to the violators due to political interference, mainly from some city based politicians from the ruling party. “Instead of taking a strong action against the violators of the Master Plan in view of the high level committee report, the government facilitated more violations since then,” report said.

The structures sealed by the SMC in compliance with High Court directions in recent days are a tip of an iceberg, said sources adding that there is more than what meets the eye as far as the violation of Srinagar Master Plan is concerned. “The two executing agencies are virtually helpless to implement the Master Plan on the ground as the higher ups influence these agencies whenever they try to act tough against the big guns,” official sources added. Nevertheless, the intervention from the High Court has raised some hopes among people who really suffer due to illegal constructions and mushrooming encroachments in and around the city. 

In two significant orders passed recently by the High Court in two separate Public Interest Litigations (PIL), the government was asked to submit a detailed list of structures that have come up in violation of the Master Plan besides take steps to decongest Srinagar by removing encroachments and formulating a futuristic plan of action for city’s planned development. 

The petitioners of both the PILs filed in the High Court have sought directions to the state government to remove hawkers from the core area of Srinagar city besides issue demolition orders for constructions made illegally without permission and in violation of the Master Plan in Srinagar.

G.N Qasba, Commissioner SMC when contacted said that there 1377 structures which have come up in violation of Master Plan in Srinagar city are under jurisdiction of municipality. “But almost all of them are sub-judice.  

“In certain cases people have approached honourable courts and most of the cases have been brought in notice of the court by the SMC,” Qasba said. He however refuted the allegations of pick and chose adopted by SMC in its sealing drive currently under way. “If anybody has any proof of pick and chose, he should immediately contact SMC. There is no question of pick and chose and these are baseless allegations.”

Pertinently, SMC sealed 39 structures in last week under High Court directions. The issue surfaced in legislative council where opposition PDP’s members alleged that structures were sealed on pick and choose basis. KNS

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