3 Influential Bizmen Raise Illegal Constructions Around Nigeen Lake

Locals Alleges Nexus, LAWDA Says 2 Offenders Booked; Watcher Suspended

Srinagar- The Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole, has ordered the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to demolish all the illegal structures, end encroachments around Nigeen Lake and order strict action against the regular offenders, in a bid to ensure a planned and systematic development of water bodies in Kashmir.

Taking cognizance of the issue raised by several residents of Nigeen, the Div Com had ordered the LAWDA to make sure that the J&K High Court's order to strictly ban any sort of construction within 200 metres of the water bodies and green belts is strictly followed.

The action comes into place almost a fortnight after a brazen violation of the court order was recorded in Baghwanpora, where three local businessmen were involved in construction of an illegal structure near the banks of Nigeen lake.

The locals had also expressed strong apprehensions that the construction was allegedly taking place in connivance with some LAWDA officials.

Talking to Kashmir Observer, Enforcement Officer (DySP), Zahid said that the department has demolished 4 structures, booked the offenders under 2 FIR's and suspended one watcher in this regard.

However, the locals have alleged that LAWDA hasn't demolished any structure in the given area and was “creating a drama”.

"The items used for the construction weren't seized and no JCB was used to demolish any structure." A resident of Baghwanpora, who wished anonymity, told Kashmir Observer.

They have also alleged that the illegal constructions and restoration of Nigeen Lake can't go on simultaneously.

"Everybody is equal before law. But the LAWDA officials have been relaxing rules for these people. Even after being booked under two different FIRs, these people are still building the structure," the resident said.

He also added that, “The LAWDA officials have already been to the place during three different demolition drives but rather than demolishing anything they have conducted a cosmetic survey of the area.

They even had sent a JCB to demolish the structure but there was no police or any other official providing protection to the machine and the driver. So, subsequently the owners barred the JCB operator from demolishing the structure."

As per eyewitnesses, the Div Com has strictly advised the enforcement officer of LAWDA to demolish the illegal structure at the earliest or an action would be taken against the official.

Executive Engineer LAWDA, Feroz Ahmed Mir rejected the allegations that the officials of his department were supporting the illegal constructions in the area.

As per the locals, Yaseen Tumaan, Showkat Tumaan and Imtiyaz Tumaan had been influencing the LAWDA department and diverting the officials from dismantling their structure for the past 12 days.

Another local Hakeem Ghulam Hassan, who also happens to be a lake conservation activist, told Kashmir Observer “These influential people have made a separate way through the newly built Sewage line, in order to hide the transportation of the raw material used for the construction of the structure.”

“In an attempt to continue their illegal construction, the owners have put a whale on one side of the construction site and barricaded two others to stop any JCB from entering the premises," he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that as per the masterplan, no construction can take place within 200 meters from the water bodies and the areas notified as green belts.

"The ongoing construction was clearly violating that as the structure was raised in a banned zone that falls near the bank of Nigeen Lake," the Enforcement Officer told Kashmir Observer.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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