Srinagar: Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) finally acted on the repeated complaints of residents and environmentalists and partially demolished a private hut in the tourism park on the West side of Nigeen Lake on Tuesday.
The demolition was however stopped after the owner of the hut, an influential businessman along with officials from the tourism department intervened and stopped LAWDA workers from razing it to ground, alleged head of an NGO which spearheaded the campaign for encroachment free Nigeen.
According to residents, the Tourism Department acquired 176 kanal and 18 marla of land on the Western shores of Nigeen Lake in early seventies for building a public park.
However it was only in 2008 the land was converted into Joggers Park and named Cherry Park. However the entire front end of the lake remains under occupation of houseboats marooned along its banks.
“We cannot even touch the water while inside the park. The entire stretch has been fenced by houseboat owners which is illegal, said Aftab Ahmad, a regular at the park.
“Some people have erected sign boards of ‘Private Property’ in the park and have raised illegal constructions. We have been asking authorities to take action for a long”, “said Nasr Ahmad Naikoo, local councillor. He has even shot a letter to Director Tourism seeking his intervention.
“Ironically some of the encroachers are running an NGO for the conservation of the Nigeen Lake. They are in cohorts with some officials of the Tourism Department and that is why tourism officials intervened today and stopped LAWDA workers from the demolition”, alleged a resident who was present at the site when the demolition squad arrived sparking an angry reaction by the inmates.
Director Tourism when contacted told Kashmir Observer that his team accompanied LAWDA for demolition of the structures today that were built 17 years back. “ No one will be allowed to breach the law”, Director Nisar Ahmad said. He parried a question when asked how was a private hut standing on tourism property for so many years?
He however said it is now upto LAWDA to check and demolish any illegal structure raised near the water bodies.
Residents said action was taken only after they approached Divisional Commissioner PK Pole who issued prompt orders for eviction of encroachers. However they appealed to him to monitor the entire process till all encroachments around the park are removed.
Divisional Commissioner Pole told Kashmir Observer that he had asked the tourism department to take action against the illegal structure, since the area pertains to the department. Pole further said he has asked for time bond action taken report regarding the case from the department and is aware of the case.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.