Authorities fail to impress traders on ‘forcible rehabilitation’

Stakeholders seek ADB intervention



Srinagar, Apr 3:  The state government’s proposal to construct Jehangir Chowk-Ram Bagh (JCRB) flyover has suffered another setback, as consensus eluded a meeting between stakeholders and the authorities over rehabilitation of those whose ventures are coming in way of the “controversial” project.
 While the authorities are understood to have confessed that the “forcible rehabilitation” of the stakeholders wasn’t proper, the traders stood by their “stand of not losing livelihood to please the government.”
 Officials said if the shopkeepers and other stakeholders continue to have reservations over their rehabilitation, Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is scheduled to finance the multi-crore project, could reconsider its decision.

 Highly placed sources said the Divisional Commissioner, Shailendra Kumar Tuesday convened a meeting with the shopkeepers while officials particularly from Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA), the project executing agency, were also present.
 The shopkeepers who are being allegedly forced to shift their business to a upcoming building pleaded before the Divisional Commissioner that the new building was totally “misfit’ for their business activities.
 “Sir we were never taken into confidence and directions with regard to the so called rehabilitation were always forced upon us by the Babus at the helm who hardly allowed us to talk,” the shopkeepers said they told the officials.
 The shopkeepers and others, whose assets are coming in way of the flyover, have been pleading that their rehabilitation would be “illogical”.
 The new building, constructed near the busy square has already drawn flak from experts. Ironically, it is the first government building in the City which has backyard towards the main road and façade towards the backyard while eyebrows are equally being raised over its designing as well. The traders have often been terming the building as nothing but “Jail Khana.”

 Sources said the ruling coalition looks at the execution of the “controversial project”, as a “point of prestige” and aspires that the ADB gets a rosy picture of the rehabilitation so that bank doesn’t hesitate on funding.
 “For now, the officials have been asked to convince the shopkeepers and other stakeholders by whatever means by April 26, after which the ADB is likely to reconsider its funding decision,” said a senior official admitting that the civil society in general was against the construction of the “concrete monster when there’s an option of widening parallel to the JCRB road stretch.”
 The officials, however, said the meeting with the divisional administration hasn’t been inconclusive. “We are soon going to visit the site for an on the spot assessment,” said an official in the divisional administration who has been tracking the flyover developments.
 The  ERA officials on the other hand pleaded that “not all but only a few are resisting the rehabilitation.”

 In December 2009, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced that Rs. 300 crore flyover would be constructed from Jehangir Chowk to Natipora. The project was scheduled to be completed in three years. But over three years on, the project has failed to take off while the civil society has been criticizing the move as “wastage of public money.”
 The public perception has been that the project aims at “nothing but facilitating hassle-free VIP movement along the Airport Road.” A key portion of the proposed flyover, which as per experts, could have provided relief to thousands of people living down congested Ram Bagh-Natipora road, has already been removed from the plans.  

Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 4 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST

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