Commercialization of residential areas goes unchecked
Srinagar, July 20: Posh residential areas are fast turning into breeding grounds for unauthorized conversion of residential properties for commercial purposes. Housing colonies in Jammu and Srinagar cities were developed for residential purposes and no commercial building permissions were accorded in these colonies other than the area earmarked for commercial activity by the concerned authorities. However sources said that majority of these housing colonies has acquired the status of more of a commercial hub having big shopping centres of every type including sale and service of motor vehicles. Sources said that besides many illegal structures have also sprouted up, there have been many such instances in the recent past, with both the Municipal Corporations turning a blind eye to them. “In place of sprawling bungalows, dozens of fresh commercial spaces are seen rearing their heads in various parts of the twin cities,” sources maintained Sources said that though the residential areas of Gandhi Nagar, Shastri Nagar, Sainik colonies, Channi Himmat and Trikuta Nagar in Jammu city have been constructed under planned colonies developed by Jammu and Kashmir Housing Board, J&K Sainik Cooperative Society, Jammu Development Authority (JDA), but, the scores of owners have changed the land use of residential plots in violation to the existing building norms. Similarly sources said in Srinagar city’s Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Gogjibagh, Wazirbagh and 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 said 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 were 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, MLA's and prominent influential people residing in these areas have played a key role in growth of such commercial activities. :Enforcement wings exist in all agencies like Jammu Municipal Corporation, Jammu Development Authority, Housing Board etc. 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 the twin cities 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. The “inaction” and “nonchalant” attitude on part of the administration towards the traffic offenders has further aggravated the situation. “The High Court has banned the parking of vehicles in Raghunath Bazaar but the directive is being flouted with impunity. Haphazard parking of vehicles has reduced the road to half, subjecting pedestrians and motorists to great hardship. It is high time that the administration clamped down on the menace of illegal parking,” said Razdan, a local resident. “It is a trouble walking along city roads in the evening, as People Park their vehicles along the narrow roads and by-lanes, causing confusion,” he remarked. In the Srinagar city, motorists senselessly park their vehicles along roads, causing congestion. “The authorities seem to have turned a blind eye to the growing congestion on the city roads. People park vehicles wherever they find space but the administration is least bothered about checking the violations,” said Owais Gul a senior Journalist working in Srinagar. (KNS)