Officials turn a blind eye to illegal constructions

The Asian Age.  | Yusuf Jameel

India, All India

The situation is being seized by the unscrupulous to raise illegal constructions, encroach upon the government land and even water bodies.

Illegal construction goes on in many parts of Jammu & Kashmir.

SRINAGAR: Kashmir Valley continues to reel from security clampdown or spontaneous shutdowns after the Centre has stripped Jammu and Kashmir of its special status under Article 370 and split the state into two Union Territories (UTs) on August 5.

The situation is being seized by the unscrupulous to raise illegal constructions, encroach upon the government land and even water bodies. They are also vandalising forest wealth, reports pouring in from various parts of the Valley said.

A similar situation was witnessed during the five-month-long unrest in the Valley and parts of Jammu region in the aftermath of the killing of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016.

Like then the sections of administration have turned almost defunct and the rule of law is restricted to a few pockets in the Valley.

Over the past 44 days, illegal constructions have been going in several parts of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Valley. Greedy people have raised shop-lines and houses or added floors to those which were already existing after taking advantage of the prevailing situation in the Valley.

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Officials privately admit that it is not just in Srinagar only that the illegal activities have been reported but some other towns and areas too have witnessed such brazenness. What's more, trees are being cut and transported out of the forest areas on horsebacks and in lorries at night.

In Srinagar's Dal and Nigeen lake areas, illegal constructions have been going on for the past few weeks. These constructions have come up on encroached lands. Even some people have filled the water bodies and linking channels with earth and rocks to create tiny islands either to raise constructions over these or turn them into vegetable fields.

Some residents said that truckloads of earth, rocks, bricks, sand and cement are being transported to the area in the dead of the night when security forces have withdrawn from streets and then ferried deep inside the lakes in small boats. In normal situations, police and enforcement staff of Lakes and Waterways  Development Authority (LAWDA)  keep an eye on such activities and, from time to time, take steps to discourage them. In the backdrop of the talk of corruption and nepotism, the LAWDA has been accused of turning a blind eye to illegal constructions, encroachments and similar violations.

The J&K High Court has on more than one occasions pulled up its officials over the ineptitude and leniency shown by some of them. In 2016, the then chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, had replaced its vice-chairman following complaints.