Having completed all requisites and formalities the Srinagar administration has started removing encroachments and retrieving encroached parts of Kshushalsar lake located in the old Srinagar city.
The action on the ground started Saturday when the administration swung into action removing 25 encroachments including structures and compounds and retrieving over 30 kanals of lake area.
This significant step that has been long overdue follows extensive preparations over the last few months during which relevant formalities – including inspections and verifications and issuance of notices to encroachers – were completed.
The much-awaited anti-encroachment drive will continue non-stop until all of over 300 identified encroachments are removed and all encroached parts of the lake area are retrieved.
It is notable that identified encroachments in Khushalsar lake area include around 80 illegally built residential houses where people live — aadami-wise details of which were compiled last year by the Revenue department of the district.
The other 220-odd encroachments are in the forms of fenced landholdings and plinths and sheds. These also include under-construction structures.
The encroachers who have built residential houses in the lake area have been served several eviction notices during the last several months.
While the first eviction notice was served soon after the retrieval proceedings were initiated following District Magistrate Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary’s visit to the area in May last year the last eviction notice was served last month.
Saturday’s action against encroachments in the lake area also saw two of these residential houses coming in the path of bulldozers and being demolished.
The administration has appealed to the inhabitants to self-demolish their residential structures and self-evict therefrom. It has warned that obstructions in retrieval proceedings and non-compliance with eviction orders will result in strict criminal proceedings as per the law.
Meanwhile, in the light of these illegal constructions having taken place without requisite building permissions, the DM has ordered the district police to investigate the matter and look into possible official involvement in illegal construction of residential structures in the lake area.
Khushalsar lake was once a vast and thriving waterbody with clear water and thriving vegetation — and acted as a source of livelihood for many. But today the lake is in highly deteriorated condition having been encroached upon at many places with illegal construction and landfilling.
Meanwhile, Dr Shahid has urged the general public to report to concerned authorities all cases of land-grabbing and illegal constructions on State or common land and water bodies in the district and help the district administration in its renewed efforts to safeguard these public assets of great importance.