For the last few weeks, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation is sealing buildings which have emerged in violation of the master plan guiding the development in the capital city. The sealing process is taking place under the directions of the court. Many sections of demography are linked to it: the people who invested in creation of these buildings, who have hired them as work spaces and who are the human resource linked directly to these buildings.
As the court is pursuing the stake-holding at various levels, it has started asking the most vital question: about the officials who permitted all these constructions. In the first instance, it has sought details about a set of municipal officers and the assets they own. It has asked the government to take action against the officers in SMC, SDA and LAWDA who are accused of such glaring violations of the master plan.
Even the advocate general assured the division bench, that is hearing the PIL, that the officers who will be found responsible for encouraging the violations would be taken to task: they would be booked for corruption and breaching the city developmental laws. By all indications, the top attorney of the state government said the heads would definitely roll in the case.
It is too early to say whether or not the government will act. Even if it acts as its advocate general says, the question still remains: why the government did not act on its own and why did it wait for a PIL and the court to make it work? If Kashmir gets the response to this question, half of the problem would be over.
A set of people who are the face of the system in place are the actual demolition squad of this town and its plan. Did not everybody in the state government knew that an officer who has a highly scandalous record literally sold the bus stand in Batamaloo? Is not there a thick file pending disposal before the housing and urban affairs department that details the design of doom and damage to the public property by the same officer who is also required for a much larger recruitment mess in another department.
There are instances when the political interventions led to the violations or preventing implementing the systems on ground. Well before the durbar moved to Jammu, the secretariat corridors were rife with a report about how the government had to ensure demolition of a high worth building that was being protected by the officials who were supposed to raze it to the ground. There are countless instances in which the politicians in the city prevented authorities from doing what the law wanted them to do.
In such a situation, the only way out is to create examples. If an officer involved for damaging the blueprint of development in the city is retired, why cannot he face the music for what he did? If one strong instance is created, it will help the system to restore its credibility and prevent a future misuse of positions and policies to one’s own benefit. Let the court write the golden rule for this.