Despite memories of September 2014 devastating floods still fresh on peoples mind, authorities in Srinagar are turning a blind eye while banks of River Jhelum are being encroached.
One such case of alleged encroachment has united traders of famous Goni Khan Market recently.
Traders Association Goni Khan (TAGK) Srinagar on Friday sought action against Hayat Mubeen, a local landlord for “illegally” constructing a shopping complex on the banks of river Jhelum at Goni Khan Market, Amira Kadal Srinagar.
After completing the controversial shopping complex the landlord is currently demolishing another near it. “Both buildings are located on the river banks turning the area prone to devastation during floods,” said a member of Traders Association. “We have apprehensions that all the activities are done on an illegal basis as no official would allow any construction on the banks of river Jhelum.”
Members of Traders Association Goni Khan have approached Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department regarding the matter. “Officials told us that they have not given any permission for the construction of the controversial shopping complexes in Goni Khan Market,” the President of the TAGK.
In a letter addressed to The Chief Engineer, I&FC Department (copy with Kashmir Life), the traders alleged that the landlord is digging inside the premises of the construction site, which could lead to the threat of life and property as well and also damage already weakened river bank.
“We have already brought this issue into the notice of some junior municipal officers but nothing has been done so far,” said another member of the association.
TAGK President alleged that the construction work was done within days, resulting in completion of one building. “Another old building is being demolished right now. We have proof of how much he has encroached and how deep he has excavated on the river bank.”
The association have already uploaded the images of the alleged illegal construction work on Jammu and Kashmir Government’s Grievance Cell website.
A delegation of traders recently met Baseer Ahmed Khan, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, who assured them that action will be taken if the accused is found guilty.
“He told us that he has directed the officials and the issue will be settled within the days,” a member of the association told Kashmir Life. “It is not only about illegal construction but the safety of the entire market as we cannot take chances with river banks, especially after witnessing 2014 floods.”
Commenting on this, Srinagar Municipal Corporation Commissioner Khurshid Ahmed Sanai said that a team of officials have been assigned to look into the matter, “but the officials are yet to locate the exact place where the construction is taking place. We are working on it.”
On June 29, 2019, after a deputation from Goni Khan Traders Association met the Mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation Junaid Azim Mattoo, SMC Commissioner has been directed by the Mayor to take the cognizance of the issue and submit the report on immediate basis.
When contacted the owner of the structures Hayat Mubeen, he said; “This is my residential house which got damaged in 2014 floods. Back then I didn’t have resources to reconstruct this house, but now I am demolishing the same. What is wrong with that?”
Mubeen claims that an FIR in this regard has been lodged in 2014, and he is the lawful proprietor of this land. But according to a local source, the structure housed a hotel and not a residential house.