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news details
Enforcement squad names Minister, former Commissioner for 'underhand deals'
SMC smashes illegal mega structures
11/24/2017 11:06:51 PM

Early Times Report

Srinagar, Nov 24: Months after an "influential family" managed to illegally construct seven floors of the "twin-malls" on the airport road in Barzulla-Parraypora locality, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) woke up to act against the "mega structures" that mocked at the Master Plan.
The "influential family", accused of "hawala links" managed to undertake the illegal constructions when the National Investigation Agency has tightened the noose around such operators.
Officials said a team led by Joint Commissioner SMC and other senior officials visited the buildings and were shocked to see the construction that had been allowed illegally right under the nose of the concerned on the road frequented by VIPs. However finding most of the floors-completed, the enforcement squad of the SMC got a portion of upper-floor "symbolically demolished." As per the officials, the family was granted permission for construction of two small houses of almost two floors each. "But in violation of the Master Plan the family has constructed two of the biggest multi-storied structures in the area," said an enforcement officer. Two month ago, when Early Times exposed that the family with alleged "hawala connections" was undertaking construction of sixth floor of the twin buildings in violation of norms, the SMC had declined to act. Sources said that time the SMC's Chief Enforcement Officer had told the family to "gear up the brick work inside the columnar structure." Sources alleged that the SMC's then Commissioner and the Chief Enforcement Officer had taken huge kickbacks from the family. "Given the market value of the area, millions were being paid for every floor of this building to keep SMC in good humor," the sources said. Sources further said the SMC is planning to initiate action against the enforcement squad. Interestingly the person who has been holding the charge of the Chief Enforcement Officer, was arrested in 2014 on charges of corruption. "One wonders why the then Commissioner (Shafqat Khan) had had elevated a tainted official as the Chief Enforcement Officer unless there was some underhand dealing. But then the reality is that both of them were illegally elevated," a senior official at the SMC told Early Times. Given the embarrassment faced by the SMC over the illegal constructions, the authorities had decided to initiate action against the enforcement squad. But in bid to safeguard their chairs, the enforcement officials are understood to have spilled the beans. "The former commissioner in league with a minister accepted huge kickbacks from the family, how could we have taken action on our own" said employees in the enforcement wing of the SMC. Sources said the incumbent SMC Commissioner Reyaz Ahmed has been informed about the "dubious role" played by the minister, who belongs to the ruling PDP, in patronizing illegal constructions in Srinagar."
It was reliably learnt that the twin buildings on Airport Road would be sealed soon. "In 2016 unrest an upcoming building near Abdullah Bridge Raj Bagh had been sealed due to similar charges. We may seal this structure as well because otherwise the entire SMC can land in trouble before the High Court which is hearing a case into the Master Plan violations," said a senior official. Despite repeated attempts the "influential family" accused of having hawala connections couldn't be contacted for comments.
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