'No compensation for damaged commercial structures'
Srinagar, Jan 9: The commercial structures damaged in the encounters between militants and troops are not being compensated by the government for the losses.
It is only the damaged residential buildings which are compensated under ex-gratia relief by the government. But the proprietors of Hotels or other commercial structures, where the encounter takes place, have to bare the cost themselves.
The minister for relief and revenue, Raman Bhala, cites insurance cover as the reason for not compensating the loss to commercial structures.
“They have the insurance cover to compensate the losses so we don’t need to compensate them. They do get some token account under Chief Minister’s relief fund but only residential structures are given monetary support under ex-gratia relief,” Bhalla told Greater Kashmir.
In almost all encounters which have taken place between militants and troopers in Srinagar, Hotels and commercial structures have been the spots where militants were holed up and troopers used force to target them.
In past two fidayeen attacks at Lal Chowk, Standard and Punjab Hotel were damaged. The others in the list include Greenway Hotel, Boulevard Hotel and others. But none among them have been compensated.
Hinting at the need for change in relief policy to the owners of commercial structures in Jammu and Kashmir, he said they would consider compensation to proprietors in such cases. “We will consider them for compensation,” he said.
Getting the insurance, however, isn’t a cake walk for affected hoteliers and commercial property owners. It takes lot of time in completing the formalities for getting the insurance.
A co-owner of Standard Hotel, the site of last fidayeen attack at Lal Chowk here, Naseer Ahmad Khan, revealed that they had spent Rs 10 to 12 lakh on the renovation of the Hotel and it took them two years to get an insurance compensation of around Rs 2.5 lakh.
“There were too many hurdles in the way and completing all formalities for getting the insurance took us two years. We started renovation three months after the incident but we received the insurance money way after its completion,” he said.
The damage to Standard Hotel was 70 to 80 per cent in the encounter that took place in October 2006.
Militants on October 4, 2006, had attacked the Akhara building in Budshah Chowk, one of the biggest camps of paramilitary CRPF in the city and later took refuge in the nearby Standard Hotel. At least three policemen were killed and 10 others, including six civilians, injured in the encounter that lasted for nearly 22 hours.
Khan said they were expecting monetary help from the government which didn’t come. “We were waiting for it for a long time but had to finally carry out the renovation on our own,” he added.
The officials said the compensation to property owners was for the government to decide. However, on the contrary the ones who have been assured compensation allege they are yet to get any.
The proprietors of Greenway Hotel, which was gutted in 2003 encounter, were assured compensation by the then Governor but nothing materialized for them. The night-long fierce encounter in the Hotel in August 2003 had ended with the killing of the killing of five persons, including Javid Ahmad Shah and the two ultras.
The building was completely damaged in the operation in which they fired mortars to flush out the two suicide attackers which had been holed up inside. The damage, owners claim, was ion crores.
“The then Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, and the Governor themselves assured us compensation but we haven’t received a penny so far. We have approached the DC and the file is lying with him and we have also filed a writ petition in the court,” said, Muhammad Amin Malik, one of the co-owners of the Hotel.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Jan 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 9 Jan 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 10 Jan 2010 00:00:00 IST
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