Why Bemina Residents See Threat in Proposed IIM Campus

SRINAGAR: The residents of Bemina have castigated the government proposal to establish IIM campus at Narkara Budgam.

A delegation of Bemina Development and Welfare Forum said that any such move will prove disastrous for the residents of Bemina.

"The proposed land is basically a wetland and also acts as flood absorption basin. Now the government plans to transfer 800 kanals of land to set up IIM campus there in complete violation of the Environmental Protection Act," said Syed Ali Safvi, chairman of the forum.

Safvi said that the Narkara land was reportedly transferred from Revenue department to Wildlife department in 2013 and is a notified protected area under the provisions of the J&K Wildlife Protection Act.

"The land use will adversely impact the eco-system and increase the flood risk in Bemina particularly from Khomeini Chowk and Hamdania Colony. It seems the government is not learning from past mistakes. We have already seen how the colony construction at Rakh Arath in Bemina meant for rehabilitation of Dal dwellers has proved a damp squib. Rakh Arath acted as flood absorption basin and by filling over 6000 kanals of Rakh Arath the government not only deprived locals of their livelihood but also put the entire Bemina  area at greater risk of floods," Safvi said.

He added that now if the state government goes ahead with filling of 800 kanals at Narkara that will not only adversely disturb the eco-system and natural habitats but will push Bemina further into danger zone.

Environmentalists and ecologists had warned that Rakh Arath project would prove to be a disaster. They had warned that construction of concrete structures was not technically feasible at Rath Arath, covering thousands of kanals of wetland. Without paying heed to the incessant pleas of environmentalists, the government went ahead with the project.

About 7526 kanals of land at Rakh Arath Bemina was transferred to Lakes and Water Development Authority (LAWDA) to establish housing colony based on 14000 plots for rehabilitation of 80000 Dal dwellers. The project soon ran into controversy after some revenue officials were found involved in tempering with land records.

"Pertinently, the housing colony at Rakh Arath gets partially submerged every time there are rains, thereby  exposing the underbelly of the project," Safvi said.

Spread over five kilometers along 30 feet wide canal, Bemina is a highly flood-prone village. Traditionally, Rakh Arath, which has now been filled with earth, used to act as flood reservoir. The earth filling of Rakh Arath has posed a grave risk to inhabitants of old Bemina who find themselves sandwiched “between devil and the deep sea.

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