The Jammu and Kashmir Government has directed authorities to remove illegal encroachments along water bodies in the length and breadth of the state so that September 2014 like situation doesn’t recur.
One of the top officials told that the government has observed that authorities has only laid focus on Jhelum River by launching Flood Management Programme and removal of illegal constructions, similar attention needs to be paid towards other rivers and water bodies, which too had contributed in destruction during September 2014.
“Illegal residential colonies that have come up on the wet lands and river banks over the decades are aggravating the chances of floods not only in Srinagar city but in other parts of the State also. Now we have directed the concerned authorities in the state to launch forceful drive against illegal structures,” insisted not to be named, the official maintained.
It is to mention here that the committee on estimates headed by People’s Democratic Party (PDP) MLA, Javid Hassan Beigh and comprising of 10 Members of Legislative Assembly and two of Legislative Council in its report has observed that Irrigation and Flood Control Department has yet not prepared any blue print to ensure that September 2014 like situation doesn’t recur in any part of Jammu and Kashmir.
“The department should remove all illegal structures along the water bodies with the assistance of police under the directions of Deputy Commissioner concerned and stern action should be taken against the erring persons”, the Committee had said, adding “the Government should in view of topography and requirement/ problems of people direct the Irrigation and Flood Control Department to prepare a blueprint for completion of all projects/schemes of major rivers and water bodies in the State”.
Following the September 2014 floods, the High Court had directed the government to remove encroachments along the water bodies. After which government removed constructions on several places on the banks of Jehlum.
Meanwhile people allege that a big construction has also been raised near Zero Bridge Srinagar in the flood channel.
“The building is being constructed just few hundred meters away from Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control office. So far, three storeys have been constructed and pillars have been erected for the fourth one,” one of the local residents in Rajbagh told this.
Locals at the Rajbagh, said construction were started in 2016 during the unrest. “Till 2016 end, we did not know because the place where the construction is taking place was fully covered with green tarpaulin so that nobody raises objections,” Muneer Ahmad, a resident of Rajbagh, said. “When it was raised to second storey then we got to know about it.”
A shopkeeper at the Rajbagh, said that SMC did not allow them even for minor repairs without proper permission, whose shops were destroyed by 2014 floods. “It seems that rules are only for common masses while government is allowing constructions for influential people even in flood channel,” the shopkeeper said.
Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation, Riyaz Ahmad Wani, was quoted to have said that government had granted permission for the said construction in 2010. “All departments, including SMC, Irrigation and Flood Control Department had given NOC in 2010 for the construction,”.
Jhelum, one of the oldest rivers of the Valley, is at the receiving end of encroachments, pollution, and dumping. Illegal establishments are infringing the river embankments at various places in the city including Chattabal, Qamarwari, and its adjoining areas. Padshahi Canal situated in Ganderbal too bore the brunt of it. It has shrunk to “3 to 5 feet from the range of 17 to 27 feet”.