Making City More Flood-Prone—Thanks To SMC, SDA

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Srinagar: In brazen violation of the High Court directives seeking implementation of the Master Plan, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has started land-filling of the crucial Doodh Ganga canal in Batamaloo locality here making the area more flood-prone than before.
Official sources said the canal, which has already faced encroachments downstream, was being buried to pave way for open land area where the government wants to “rehabilitate workers of the political party.”
While the locals are up in arms over the development, experts said the land-filling was against the interests of City, which witnessed devastative floods in 2014.
That time the flood waters had instantly receded from this locality, while experts believe that the open portion of Doodh Ganga had miraculously paved natural outlet to flood waters. The adjoining areas had remained flooded for around a month.
But since last year, this canal had been filled at least twice, both the times by authorities.  In May 2015, the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) which claims ownership rights over the canal had land-filled portion of Doodh Ganga to pave for construction of an “illegal” Tata Sumo stand in the area.
Though people had raised concerns over the canal burial, the SDA officials expressed inability to abort the plans for they were under “tremendous political pressures.”
This time again, the SDA is silent over the issue though it happens to be custodian of the Master Plan. Interestingly the canal area, which is being buried again, happens to fall in SDA domain. Still the development authority is silent.
Officials said the SMC and the SDA were bound to take No Objection Certificate from the concerned departments particularly the Irrigation and Flood Control Department before undertaking the land-filling.
“Given the bitter experience of 2014 floods, getting NOC for such activities has become all the more compulsory, but when it comes to vote bank politics, everything is compromised,” regretted a senior official asking not to be identified.
The IFCD officials confirmed that they have not issued any NOC whereas no such development was brought to their notice. “See the fact is that given the constructions downstream, the Doodh Ganga is no more a canal but it was supposed to act as natural outlet much like a storm water drain, which is crucially important in case of flood like situations,” a senior IFCD official told Kashmir Observer.
Executive Engineer Drainage Shafat Ahmed Khan confirmed that the SMC was land-filling the canal.  He said SMC commissioner Bashir Ahmed Khan issued formal orders for the land-filling.
Meanwhile the Batamaloo residents said they have decided to move High Court. “We are filing a PIL to pray before the honorable Court of law as to how come the government can be callous towards a development, which is making the City more flood-prone. This political hooliganism is intolerable,” said a delegation of locals.
The SDA is already under scanner for favoring politicians from a particular party. Last year the SDA got its own Parimpora bus stand converted into slum for political workers, allegedly to please a politician having vote-bank politics at stake.
The SDA also plan to landfill, Rakh-e-Gundahakash, a vast flood basin so that a colony could be constructed there.  Experts opine that such “politically motivated developments” are making Srinagar more flood prone!

 

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