Early Times Report
Srinagar, Nov 8: People were expecting unabated illegal constructions to stop during the current administration, but over the last few months, scores of illegal buildings have come up at various places in the heart of the Srinagar city.
Sources told Early Times that Srinagar Municipal Corporation had turned a blind eye to these blatant violations of building norms. "In place of sprawling bungalows, dozens of fresh commercial spaces have come up in various parts of the Srinagar city during last few months," sources maintained.
"We were expecting that this administration will take serious steps to stop illegal constructions and also take action against the officials who over the years have been assisting in the illegal constructions, but instead, more illegal constructions have come up within the city," said a local residents here in Bemina Srinagar.
Sources said that even posh residential areas are fast turning into commercial arcades. Housing colonies have become commercial hubs with shopping centres and even motor workshops.
Sources said in Srinagar city's Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Gogjibagh, Wazirbagh and Karan Nagar, Bemina, Qamarwari, Shalteng , which were planned residential colonies are fast turning into commercial areas in complete violation of Srinagar Master Plan guidelines. Moreover, it has also been seen that house owners who have rented their residences for commercial purposes have been paying property tax as per taxes applicable for residential property. This is considerably less that the tax applicable for commercial property.
"As per the Master Plan of the Housing Colony, in every block and sector there is provision for minimarket. However, few years back when authority of law and order had started gradually diminishing, the residential colony started turning into hub of commercial activities," sources maintained.
Sources said that in the earmarked residential zones, nursing homes, restaurants, insurance offices, banks, and beauty salons etc. have come up with full impunity.
Many reports were prepared in past to identify all illegal commercial conversions in order to take action but nothing has happened. Enforcement wings exist in all agencies like Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Srinagar Development Authority, Housing Board etc. but they keep shifting the blame on one to other," sources maintained.
A senior official, on condition of anonymity, said: "Many issues are involved, including laxity on part of the enforcement agencies and political interference. Though a number of notices are issued to violators, people go to court and get a stay."