Land Mafia Filling Water Bodies At Will

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Srinagar: The Government deadline to the administration on removal of encroachments from the Khushalsar and Gilsar lakes in old City here has proved a blessing for the land mafia, who have filled yet another five kanals of the fast-shrinking water bodies in this month.

The burial of these twin water bodies is feared to intensify in the coming days as it will, for sure, catch the authorities unawares who would find a perfect alibi in ‘being busy with the Eid preparation’.

The inhabitants of Eidgah locality said there was unusual movement of tippers ferrying earth to the Khushhalsar this month, which falls along busy Dr Ali Jan Road.

“Hundreds of tippers unloaded earth in the area as could be seen clearly from the Dr Ali Road side,” the locals said adding “even though the matter was, time and time again, brought into the notice of police, no action was taken.”

Sources said some Revenue officials posted in the area, including Patwaris, were in league with the land mafia despite knowing the government diktat on encroachments. 

L and officials allegedly have told the mafia that it was opportune time to get the lake as much land-filled as possible before any fresh survey was undertaken.

“Land-filling will certainly gain momentum in the coming days but we are helpless as the higher-ups are unmoved,” an official posted at Eidgah Tehsil said pleading anonymity.

Apart from land-filling, work on under-construction structures has been geared up inside the water body. Interestingly some of the illegally constructed structures, which were demolished in the previous years, have cropped up afresh.

Official sources said in 2014, the then District Development Commissioner, Srinagar, Farooq Ahmed Shah and the Additional DC GM Dar had personally monitored the demolition of some structures in Firdous Colony, towards the Khushhalsar side. “But those structures too have been reconstructed,” the locals said.

This is how the officials show concern towards the conservation of dying water bodies at a time when the state High Court is monitoring the case.

On May 21, during the District Development Board Meeting for Srinagar, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had asked Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, to personally look into the plight of the lakes.

Though subsequently on June 3,   Dr Samoon called a meeting seeking removal of encroachments within a fortnight, till now the official machinery is yet to even visit the area.

A police official posted in the area said the department was busy with maintenance of law and order. “Presently we have other priorities like maintenance of law and order. However, if we receive any instructions only then we can look into the matter,” the official told Kashmir Observer. (To be concluded)

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