Hotels Mushroom Along Notified Lidder River Area

PAHALGAM: Some sixty hotels have come up on Lidder River in Mawoora on Pahalgam-Aishmuqam road in last three years and all of them have come up without any proper permission from the concerned departments.
The reason authorities turn a blind eye towards these illegal constructions, according to residents, is that these hotels belong to ‘influential’ people and they include Pahalgam’s ‘land mafia’, bureaucrats and people with ‘political connections’.
Multi storey hotels made of concrete have mushroomed in the vicinity of Pahalgam downstream Lidder River despite being notified and bought under PDA by the government in 2012. At Mawoora hotels came up along the Lidder banks soon after authorities stated a rafting club in the area a few years back.
However Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA), SDM, officials from Tourism Deptt, Tasildar and police have yet to take any cognizance despite repeated public pleas, said Abdul Rehman Ganaie, President Hoteliers Union, Pahalgam.
When KO contacted officials from Tourism, PDA, SDM, Revenue and Police, the answer was identical:  “We are helpless”.
However Ast Director Tourism Ms Zahida Perveen said they have initiated action against the illegal hotels but refused to give a time frame by which that action will be visible on the ground.
“On the one side Govt. talks big  about the preservation of health resorts but on the other hand it turns blind eye to illegal constructions which may turn this once lush green belt into a concrete jungle”, opines Mushtaq Ahmad Magray, a social activist.
Though the issue of Mawoora illegal constructions have been raised many a times before the top officials in special meetings held in Pahalgam, yet no action has been taken so far, he said.
“Either these officials don’t dare to take any action against this land mafia, bureaucrats and influential people or they are corrupt themselves because it belies reason that they will not act against these illegal constructions in highly eco-fragile zone for so long”, said, Ghulam Nabi Wagay, a local trader.     
Many illegal constructions have also come up on the banks of Lidder in nearby Yanner where mafia has usurped Kahcharai land. Similarly concrete hotels have been constructed on agriculture land in Langanbal and Batkoot while in Gujrani Batkoot, Veer Saran, Ganesh Pora, Jaibal, Aamad Wagad forest and wild life reserves have been utilized for the constructions,” sources said. 
They said that despite failing to get No Objection Certificates from the tourism department these hotels are operational for last three years and accommodate tourists.
Local residents alleged that illegal constructions continue to thrive despite the notification following the recommendations of the committee formed by the High Court as well as Kashmir University’s Environment Impact Assessment team. 
Residents also allege that PDA was not monitoring the repair work and violation of building permission norms. “How come those having flouted building permission norms have been allowed to go for huge repair work by PDA,” Magray asked.
“ How the influential people manage to ferry huge construction material into Pahalgam and then dump at their hotels and huts,”  it surprises us he said.
Locals allege that the police in connivance with the authorities was facilitating the entry of huge construction material into Pahalgam while the locals whose houses got damaged due to windstorm, snow or blaze and have proper permission from court struggle to bring construction material for repair work.
Police men and checking squad  have been kept at the toll post are in hand in glove with these influential hoteliers and it is they who facilitate the entry of huge quantity of construction material for them.


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