Gogji Bagh residents decry 'illegal demolition drive' by I&FC deptt

Residents living along the Flood Channel Bund in Gogji Bagh here on Thursday accused Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department of carrying out illegal demolition drive in the locality.

“The department, on the pretext of protection of water bodies, has been carrying out, on a selective basis, a repeat of the ill-conceived and unlawful demolition of temporary boundary walls,” a delegation of resident said.

One of the residents said this morning, a team of officials from the I&FC department, without any prior notice, started demolishing the walls of his house and eight other houses, in violation of a 2018 stay order from the J&K High Court.

“When we enquired from the official heading the drive about the authority for the action, the official referred to the orders of the High Court in a PIL of 2014, but, refused to produce copy of the order, in response to our demand,” he said.

“We mentioned to the official that our houses were not, as per our information, covered under the PIL and the stay order obtained by us was a specific one. We also mentioned that the houses in question have not in any way endangered the safety of the water bodies, and the temporary boundary walls built by us, in some cases, with the lawful permission of the erstwhile authorities of the department, were meant to not only protect our lives and property,” said the residents. “These temporary structures can by no stretch of imagination, be taken to be encroachments on the water body, according to the letter and spirit of the law. If this action was part of a general drive, then why had actual encroachments on the same bund on either side, and elsewhere in the city, running into hundreds, been ignored,” they asked.