ENCROACHMENTS EAT AWAY JHELUM BEAUTIFICATION
GK CITY CORRESPONDENT
Srinagar, May 26: Notwithstanding government claims of continuing to facelift Jhelum banks, encroachments are eating away the riverside, including the already beautified patches where ugly illegal hutments have again popped up.
A ride down the Jhelum in a boat, downstream Amira Kadal, is enough to expose how the shanty hutments have been constructed even on the already beautified patches, whereas elsewhere along the banks the illegal structures continue to spoil the beauty of the river, considered Kashmir’s lifeline.
In areas like Habba Kadal, Fateh Kadal and Zaina Kadal scores of such hutments mock at the government claims of beautification.
The beautification started during the previous PDP led regime had been a colossal task for the government because the removal of allegedly illegal structures took over a year to realize.
Thereafter, the Jhelum stretch between Raj Bagh and Budshah Bridge were beautified. The ruling National Conference had been claiming to extend the beautification upto Chattabal Veer, the proposed last halt for inland river transport, scheduled to take off in June.
In a bid to promote tourism in the old City through Jhelum cruises, the government has been claiming to facelift the river banks and also repair Ghats where the boats are schedule to take halts.
To review this all, sometime back senior officials including Divisional Commissioner Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon took a motorboat ride downstream to Shaher-e-Khaas and back to Pirzoo Island near Poloview. But during the trip, the high level team seems to have missed to see the ugly encroachments.
Prominent expert on heritage and former Director General Tourism Muhammad Saleem Beg opines that there was a dire need to check the encroachments.
“These ugly hutments will simply bring disrepute for the tourism sector and the basic purpose of Jhelum beautification (started in the previous regime) will go waste because for now the entire expenditure worth millions is literally going down the river,” Beg who is Convener INTACH, told Greater Kashmir.
Officials said the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD) is custodian of the Jhelum banks and that the department should have kept an eye to check any violations on the banks.
“This is height of callousness that the department which spent millions on Jhelum beautification is allowing the same to get ruined though reconstruction of shanty hutments,” said a retired IFCD official requesting not to be named.
Despite repeated attempts the IFCD officials couldn’t be contacted for comments.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 26 May 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 27 May 2012 00:00:00 IST
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