Jhelum continues to shrink due to illegal encroachments

IRFAN RASHID

Srinagar:

Even after one year of floods, nothing seems to have changed when it comes to removing encroachments along the Jhelum in Kashmir.
During September-2014 floods, several residential colonies constructed illegally along the river bank were damaged. The administration had promised to stop such activity.
Between September 3 and 7, 2014, heavy rainfall had led to massive flooding in the Jhelum, which breached its banks—six breeches only Srinagar— and devastated several areas. Most of them were built in an illegal way during the last two decades.
The blatant violation of the Master Plan is with the active help of influential persons having close political links. So every effort made to stop the violation has been thwarted. On the banks of the Jhelum near Bemina, Indra Nagar, Mehjoor Nagar and Jawahar Nagar, several structures have been raised.
 “One can notice the innumerable newly raised concrete structures on that side of the Jhelum, while the government is sleeping over the issue,” said Sameer Bhat, a government teacher.
The banks of Jhelum, a portion of which got washed away last year, had become a haven for the unauthorised colonisers. In the past few years, houses and shopping complexes have come up on the river banks. “We don’t see any effort to stop violators and you can see open defiance by the people who are being settled deliberately. There should have been a campaign against them to save the city,” said Ishfaq Nazir, a university student.
During the past one decade, encroachment has taken place in a planned manner under the very nose of the administration. The Srinagar Development Authority (SDA) and Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) are already fighting a losing battle to retrieve its land from encroachers.
These encroachments have again exposed the faulty policies which have encouraged unlawful activities along the banks of rivers and rivulets in the entire Kashmir region.
 “People are now settled there and they cannot be evicted in one day. We have taken up measures so that action is taken against property dealers. People have to be shifted to some alternative place, which is a slow process,” said a district administration Official.
Despite claims made by the government about acting against such constructions established on encroached land, which have mushroomed in the city during the past two decades, the Srinagar Development Authority and Srinagar Municipal Corporation are not showing keenness to act.
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