Leaving big fish, LAWDA preys upon poor

Srinagar: Reacting to the deterioration of the world famous Dal Lake, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir had passed orders to rehabilitate the Dal-dwellers as also to demolish the structures in the 200-metre zone of the lake. However in 2014, the sprouting of hotels all along the periphery of the lake like mushrooms raised concerns about the survival of the water body.

The LAWDA and SDA reacted by demolishing a few structures, however, no hotel or industrial building was ever touched. 

In the same year, the High Court took possession of the Dal Lake wherein every decision with respect to the lake’s ecological balance and maintenance would straightaway be observed through Court without the interference of the government or any other related agency.

“We are not against the people of Saidakadal or any other area,” Vice-Chairman LAWDA Dr. Sarmad Hafeez said. “There’s a definite court directive and we’re working towards the survival of our water bodies. We have demolished some 120 structures in the vicinity of the lake from past one year.”

Any new structure popping up in the area, he said, shall be demolished as per the court orders.

Dr Sarmad said that Saidakadal residents were using September-2014 floods as a pretext to construct new dwellings and commercial establishments. “Come what may, we shall not allow it at any cost,” he said. “People have to understand illegal is after all illegal and they will have to abide by the law.” 

The residents of Saidakadal, however, refute the claim and said they were only rebuilding their shattered houses. “Floods have damaged our houses badly and now if we try to repair them, they come and harass us,” Manzoor sofi, a resident of Ashai Bagh said. “Our houses are not safe for living. Massive cracks have developed in the walls. We’ve been living in a shed for past one year and nobody cares about the pain and agony of the families who are suffering at the hands of government agencies.”

“If they are really sincere about water bodies, they must make the report of their demolitions public,” said Ghulam Nabi, an ex-corporator.

 “Some 700 families are living in this stretch and most of the houses were damaged by floods,” he said.

For past one year, he said “we have living in these damaged houses and LAWDA did not allow us to repair our homes.”

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