Mufti Back with Demolition Squad

Bilal Handoo

SRINAGAR

Demolition drive along river Jhelum. Pic Courtesy: JandK
Demolition drive along river Jhelum. Pic Courtesy: JandK

In an attempt to meet the deadline set by judiciary for clearing decks on Jhelum banks, Mufti government bounced back with its “synonymous” demolition squad early this Monday.

But the comeback met a violent clash, leaving 30 with blood oozing injuries at Srinagar’s Parimpora.

Amid clashing comeback, hundreds dwelling on Jhelum bund blocked the Srinagar-Baramulla road to thwart the demolition.

But it didn’t deter the state government from stating that it is abiding J&K Water Resources and Management Act, 2010 — made mandatory by the JK High Court. This Act is an endeavour to consolidate the law relating to use of water… control and management of works with respect to water storage, conservation and flood control… in the physical integrity of water courses, lakes and springs.

So far, the government document assessed by Kashmir Life, states: “22415 trees on Jhelum bund, 49738 trees on water bodies/ nallah and some 80208 trees on irrigation land/ canal have been axed.”

Apart from trees, the judiciary time and again issued directives to state government to act against riverbank encroachments.

In fact, such judicial verdicts became frequent after last year’s September floods. It happened so — because an official ‘fact-finding’ team while doing post-mortem of the floods had squarely blamed riverbank encroachments for the flood fury.

“So far,” reads the government document, “90 pacca and 218 kacha structures other than 246 boundary walls were demolished on riverbanks.”

Finding themselves in the line of fire, hundreds of riverbank dwellers are crying hoarse over “government apathy”.

“The politicians befooled us from time to time, encouraged us to settle down in the area,” said an angry woman protester draped in shrouds during Parimpora demolition.

“One of the politicians in a bid to grab votes promised us that he will name our colony on the name of his mother. Where is he now?”

In Bakshi pore area of Srinagar Noor Bagh, locals living nearby riverbank said that they aren’t against demolition drive, “but then how could Mufti government raze our residences to ground, which are located 1800 feet from riverbanks.”

Muftis-Last-Gamble-coverThe High Court directive that came in October last year had notably directed removal of all constructions from the banks of river Jhelum and its tributaries besides staying all constructions.

Amid demolition drive, however, Mufti government has informed the High Court that adequate investment is required for conservation of river Jhelum including its de-silting and strengthening of embankments.

Pertinently, in his earlier tenure as JK chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed got ‘notoriously famous’ for his bulldozing of ‘unauthorized’ residents and commercial structures.

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