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Top, middle rung SMC smell foul as ‘illegal malls’ crop up in Srinagar


Srinagar: Ever wondered how multiple ugly structures come up in residential areas of Srinagar even in this pandemic when the whole world is struggling with a virus?

One is bound to ask the question how all of this seemingly illegal construction happening in the dead of the night is allowed that too under the nose of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation.


For instance, last Friday, the SMC was compelled to seal an under construction commercial building in the residential area of Jawahar Nagar for flouting permission norms and carrying out the construction beyond permissible limits.

SMC officials said that a team sealed the building and asked the owners not to carry out any further construction by pasting a banner at the gate of the building.

But what is surprising is that the building is less than 300 metres away from the SMC’s Ward Office in the area.

“Why did SMC allow the construction in the first place? I mean the whole area was seeing the huge six-storey building coming up in the area. Was the concerned ward officer sleeping?” a local of the area told The Kashmir Monitor.

As per official documents, Muhammad Farooq Shah son of Late Peer Ali Muhammad Shah of Jawahar Nagar was granted permission (Permission order No 4057 dated 29 June 2019) to construct “Ground basement and four storeyed mix use building” at the land Survey Number 1138 at Nursing Ghar in Jawahar Nagar.

Interestingly, the owner was granted another permission (Permission of modification under order no 455 dated 31 October 2019 for raising additional floor) last year when the government had imposed strict clampdown after reading down of Article 370 on August 5.

Locals say how the second permission order was issued during the clampdown when the entire Kashmir was shut including the government offices.

The locals protested against the SMC and the owner after they found that the permission rules were being violated and a huge commercial building was being constructed in the residential area.

They filed a petition in the court against SMC and the owner for “blatant violation of Master Plan”, pleading in the court that permission has been granted for constructing a building of height of 60 feet from ground level. However, the owner violated and raised it over 100 feet and to six storeys which “snatched the right to light, air and privacy” of the neighbouring residents.

Caught in the quagmire for issuing suspicious permission, the SMC teams inspected the site and reported the “owner has violated the building permission at each floor by increasing the floor area and not maintained proper setbacks.”

The Joint Commissioner Planning ordered the Chief Enforcement Officer to seal the building, which was done 11 days after the court order was issued.

This is not the only instance.

The Crime Branch (CB) Kashmir Friday said it has started a probe into illegal structures, shopping malls in Srinagar constructed after flouting norms.

A CB spokesperson said that they have received complaints that illegal constructions especially shopping malls have cropped up in Srinagar city after large scale flouting of construction norms.

“Crime Branch Kashmir is conducting raids at various places across Srinagar regarding the illegal constructions. Raids are being conducted at Chanapora, Karanagar, Sanat Nagar, Zakura, Balhama, Pandach and other areas,” the spokesperson said.

The CB said that the involvement of top brass in Srinagar Municipality has not been ruled out.

“We are looking into the involvement of middle rung municipality officers as well. Those found guilty will be dealt as per law. Further enquiry into the matter has been taken up,” the Crime Branch said.