With the authorities preparing the final draft of Srinagar Master Plan 20-15-35, it has been seen that scores of residential areas in the city are fast turning into commercial hubs.
Housing Colonies in Srinagar city were well developed for residential purposes and no commercial building permissions were accorded in these colonies other than the area earmarked for commercial activity.
However official sources told that majority of these housing colonies have acquired the status of more of a commercial hub having big shopping centres of every type.
Sources said that besides many illegal structures have also sprouted up, there have been many such instances in the recent past, with the authorities turning a blind eye to them. “In place of sprawling bungalows and expansive green spaces, Dozens of fresh commercial spaces are seen rearing their heads in various parts of the Srinagar city,” sources maintained
Sources said in Srinagar’s city Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Gogjibagh, Wazirbagh, Karan Nagar, Bemina, Qamarwari, Shalteng which are well planned residential colonies are fast turning into commercial areas in complete violation of Srinagar Master Plan guidelines.
The residents told that there have been several instances when they have lodged complaints with the authorities against people, for renting out their residences for commercial purposes. However, no action was taken by the authorities beyond issuing a customary notice to such residents.
Moreover, it has also been seen that residential owners who have rented their residences for commercial purposes have been paying property tax as per taxes applicable for residential property. This is considerably less that the tax applicable for commercial property.
“As per the Master Plan of the Housing Colony, in every block and sector there is provision for minimarket. However, few years back when authority of law and order had started gradually diminishing, the residential colony started turning into hub of commercial activities,” sources maintained.
Sources said that in the earmarked residential zones, nursing homes, restaurants, insurance offices, banks, and beauty salons etc. have come up with full immunity.
Many reports were prepared in past to identify all illegal commercial conversions in order to take action but nothing has happened.
According to many people, prominent influential people residing in these areas have played a key role in growth of such commercial activities. “Enforcement wings exist in all agencies, but a kind of game goes on in between these agencies wherein they keep shifting the blame from one to other,” sources maintained.
A senior official, on condition of anonymity, said: “Many issues are involved, including laxity on part of the enforcement agencies. And then there is political interference. Though a number of notices are issued to violators, people go to court and get a stay.”
Meanwhile in the absence of proper parking norms and designated parking areas, the busy markets and vital roads of city remain chockablock, owing to haphazard parking of vehicles by roadsides. Motorists also find themselves clueless while parking their vehicles. Much to pedestrians and motorists’ chagrin, haphazard parking of vehicles by roadsides has virtually reduced the city roads to half.