Politicizing SMC

Drive against Illegal Commercial Constructions in Residential Areas

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MUSHTAQ SIDIQI

 This refers to Junaid Mattu’s statement on the drive of Srinagar Municipal Corporation against illegal constructions in Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar City which he has termed as political vendetta.  Mr. Mattu, a senior office bearer of People’s Conference, has accused SMC of selectively going about its action against shopping malls and arcades in this residential area ignoring some other similar illegal constructions that have been raised by political heavy weights of National Conference. He has justified such constructions on the premise that the Srinagar Master Plan was an archaic one with deficient provisions for commercial activities.
 Mr. Mattu’s statement has come in defence of some of the illegal commercial complexes in posh residential area Jawahar Nagar  raised in open  defiance of the Srinagar Master Plan days after some of the builders of these malls voiced similar concerns of having been discriminated against by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation in the sealing process that the Corporation has of late initiated.
 Of late, SMC has launched a drive against big shopping malls and commercials complexes in residential areas in and around Srinagar City. It has issued notices to them to remove deviations or face sealing under Section 8 of the Building Operations and Control Act (BOCA) and expected to take the process of sealing to logical end. Obviously these moneyed builders, not expecting such harsh action in their wildest imagination, are feeling jittery.  The action  has also unnerved many other builders likely to face similar action for their illegal constructions. The net effect is thus positive if the supremacy of the law of the land has to be reckoned as non-negotiable. Though belated, yet the step will help halting uncontrolled growth of shopping malls in residential areas which have virtually defaced these and harmed the planned growth of the city. Pertinent to mention that in launching this drive, the present set up in SMC has been able to go about its lawful job, objectively and seriously, after an LPA  was filed before the Hon’ble High Court which has taken  serious notice of these developments and sought from SMC details of illegal constructions and action under law taken by the Corporation to prevent these. The LPA has obviously made it possible for SMC to defy any undue interference or influence. Therefore, it is completely unfair to attribute politics to the drive of demolition and sealing launched by the Corporation under Law.  Mr. Mattu should have rather appreciated this aspect as  the Hon’ble High Court  is likely to act tough against the brazen state of lawlessness that has been resorted by some builders to destroy  well planned residential areas of the city like Jawahar Nagar and Karan Nagar.
Must, therefore, these efforts be weighed on the scale of politics and  blocked to provide any leverage to builders for  continued assault on city’s residential areas to the detriment of one and all more particularly of their inhabitants, is what Mr. Junaid and others persons  need to dispassionately ponder over, keeping politics and political ambitions apart.
 The last two decades in particular have seen mushroom growth of illegal commercial complexes in the residential areas of the city prompted by massive corruption in SMC . Those at the helm in the organisation were completely blinded by the adverse fall out of such constructions on city’s residential areas. So much so, from politicians to Government officials and to moneyed people, all gave the law of the land a go by to indulge into raising illegal commercial complexes least caring for the adverse fallouts on the poor inhabitants. If   the present dispensation in SMC is thus acting as per the Rule Book, no reason for Mr. Mattu or anyone to speak against that. The sufferings that these builders are likely to go through by imminent sealing of these illegal constructions, is but to be construed as due reward for their unlawful acts.
  Srinagar is a capital city of the State with lot of importance attached to it from the tourism point of view. It is now presenting a shabby and disorderly look and, therefore, any effort to improve its lot  has to be welcomed than criticised. All and sundry have to cooperate in this need of the hour. Yes, Mr. Mattu has a point that the drive against illegal constructions has to be just, non-selective and non-discriminatory.  That SMC should unfailingly ensure.
(The author is the former Special Secretary to Govt., Housing and   Urban  Development and can be mailed at mushtaqsidiqi@yahoo.co.in

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Jun 2013 00:00:00 IST




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