‘Illegal’ building coming up on Jehlum banks threatens Rajbagh

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Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, July 5: An illegal building being constructed on the banks of river Jehlum at Rajbagh here has triggered a massive outrage as everyone is aware about the fact that encroachments along the Jehlum banks were the main reason for 2014 floods in the low lying areas of the Srinagar city.
Sources told Precious Kashmir the construction of the building started soon after the PDP-BJP government took over the reins of the state as the owner is an “influential man” and enjoys the political backing.
A delegation of the residents said that during the past three years they have approached the concerned authorities on many occasions and have apprised them about this illegal construction but their requests have fallen flat on the deaf ears. “For the past one week weather has been inclement and everyone fears that floods may once again submerge the Srinagar city. In 2014 Rajbagh and its adjoining areas were worst hit.”
The residents said that during the past years many such illegal constructions have come up in low lying areas due to which the retention capacity of river Jehlum has declined. “We hope that Governor’s administration would take a notice of it and will intervene. If the construction of this building is not stopped forthwith there is every possibility about the owner getting it legalized after it’s completed fully,” residents said.
An official wishing not to be named said, “During the past three years many buildings have come up in flood-prone zone. Our hands were tied and couldn’t act as the politicians at the top interfered in everything.”
He said the Governor’s administration should order a probe to find out how the city has been ruined especially after 2014 floods. “If these illegal constructions don’t stop time will come when the city won’t be able to withstand even one day of rainfall. It’s unfortunate that politicians who were at the helm did not pay any heed towards the city being ruined,” the official added.
An expert said, “It has been observed that when politicians come into power they forget the miseries of the common people. They even forget their promises. In 2014 when PDP was in the Opposition it took the then National Conference regime head on and blamed it for the devastation caused by the flood. It had promised the people that it would ensure that it won’t allow illegal constructions especially in the low lying areas. But after assuming power they patronized the people who indulged in violations. Now they are out of power and are crying over the split milk.”