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Encroachments damaging Khushal Sar; authorities pass the buck

Srinagar, Feb 25: Encroachments have pushed Khushal Sar wetland to the brink of extinction.
Stretched between Zadibal and Hawal areas in the city on papers, massive constructions have, of late, mushroomed on vast portions of the wetland especially at Eidgah and adjoining areas, locals told The Kashmir Monitor.
With dozens of houses built in the wetland in the recent months, the locals said constructions were going on unabated, even as a couple of structures were “demolished” by the authorities a few weeks ago.
“Construction of a house resumed within days of its demolition. Even the approach road to it, dug up by the authorities, was repaired instantly by the owners,” a local youth said, pleading anonymity.
He said the wetland was filled up and sold to people in the form of residential plots.
“Nobody is doing anything about it,” he said.
Some violators who have built new houses in the wetland area, a local youth said, had “smeared their houses with cement to make the houses look old”.
“A number of them have come up recently,” he added. “People have set up shabby cowsheds at several spots in the wetland to facilitate violations later on. Others have enclosed some areas by tin sheets behind which they can raise any structure. There is nobody to look into it.”
On part of the authorities including the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), and the Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), they seem to be sleeping over the matter and passed the buck to each other.
While Public Relations Officer LAWDA, Malik Tariq, said they were “doing a survey” of the wetland, Deputy Superintendent of Police concerned, Suhail Reshi, passed the buck to the SMC.
Chief Enforcement Officer SMC, Manzoor Ahmad Tarray, does not even know where the Khushal Sar was located.
“I have no idea where is this (the wetland) exactly,” Tarray texted.
“There is a lot of confusion about this area. As per government order, it falls under LAWDA (jurisdiction), but they say it falls with SMC. We had earlier requested the district administration to clarify the situation.”
Vice Chairman SDA, Abdul Majeed Raina, said the wetland was LAWDA’s domain.