Srinagar, May 3, KNT: After over a year, Srinagar Deputy Mayor probably woke up from deep slumber and started acting against encroachers in vanishing Khushal Sar.
Khushal Sar is a lake in highly deteriorated condition, located in Kashmir capital Srinagar. This wet land has been encroached upon at multiple places with illegal construction and landfilling with the active support of some Srinagar Municipal Corporation officials- a fact being admitted by Deputy Mayor Parvez Qadri.
“Yes, there is no denying in the fact that some employees in Srinagar Municipal Corporation grab money and facilitate illegal construction,” Qadri told media during a demolition drive at Khushal Sar.
Qadri has been active from past week against encroachers. Before leading a demolition squad at Khushal Sar, he demolished a couple of structures that were coming up illegally on State Land at Shalteng area with the alleged active support of concerned Ward Officer. Qadri even wrote to Commissioner SMC seeking suspension of concerned Ward Officer and Building Inspector.
Insiders told news agency Kashmir News Trust that since January 2020 when Qadri assumed the charge of Deputy Mayor, he never bothered to visit Khushal Sar to take action against encroachers and facilitators. “Don’t know why he is showing keen interest now when from past one year, he was dormant,” said an official wishing anonymity. He however, added that it is commendable on part of those officials who are sincere and keen to demolish illegal structures at Khushal Sar to restore its pristine glory.
Locals who have built or building residential houses at Khushal Sar mince no words in blaming some SMC employees and officials for the rampant corruption. “I spent over Rs 2 lakh to grease the palm of some SMC employees. I won’t tell you names but yes, it is a mafia where lower rung employees collect money (bribe) for the higher ups,” he said.
“Hundreds of times I tried to attract the attention of the government towards the rampant corruption and uncontrolled encroachment at Khushal Sar but all my write-ups fall on deaf ears,” said an Environmentalist.
Keeping the deteriorating condition of Khushal Sar into view, recently former Union Minister and senior Congress leader Prof Saifuddin Soz was forced to issue a statement urging government to save Kashmir’s water bodies.
“During my visit to Gilsar, Khushal Sar, Anchar and Brari Nambal, I got awakened to raise an alarm that we shall lose this great natural treasure, completely and irretrievably, if my alarm does not produce a responsible public concern”, Soz stated adding the greatest trouble has been created by land grabbers and encroachers, who are far beyond clutches of law and many times enjoying patronage of narrow-minded public figures.
“It’s not as administration is not serious about the issue but there are always some vested interest elements that act as bottle necks. Recently, Srinagar administration demolished 25 of the 300 identified encroachments over the lake area and retrieved 3.75 acres of this lake,” said a top official.
Some odd encroachments at Khushal Sar are in the forms of fenced landholdings and plinths and sheds. These also include under-construction structures.
Pertinently, famed Khushalsar Lake that once stretched from Zoonimar up to the Aali Masjid was once a vast and crystal-clear water body with clear water and thriving vegetation — and acted as a source of livelihood for many. (KNT)