Alleging that the Badami Bagh Cantonment Board was a "big mafia", Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development Muhammad Ashraf Mir Sunday locked horns with the Board asking it to handover the civilian areas to the Srinagar Municipal Corporation citing zero development in the areas over the last 30 years.
The minister's visit to areas like Sonwar, Indra Nagar and Shiv Pora turned sour after people complained that the Board has been doing nothing for the civilian population and the respective areas and alleged that not a single penny was spent on the development of civilian areas. "I was shocked to see that Cantonment Board administration which has given illegal permissions to the hoteliers and other commercial units for running out a business in the areas without proper drainage system. The drainage water always inundates Indra Nagar and major parts of Sonwar leading to a flood like situation in these areas," he said, after visiting these areas.
He said it was evident from the ground level that the Board has not spent money on streamlining the drainage system in the area for the last 30 years.
"The fact is that the office of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) BB Cantonment Board inside the boundary walls of the Cantonment. It is very difficult for the locals to approach the CEO with their grievances," he said.
Mir has taken a strong note of the improper drainage system, illegal permissions to hoteliers and commercial units. "I took up the issue with the CEO and asked him that they should handover the civilian areas under them to the SMC, if they are not able to take care. Government can take care of civilian areas very well," Mir said.
He said that while trying to ascertain the facts about illegal permissions to hoteliers, he came to know that it was the "civil administration of the BB Cantonment Board" who issued permissions in violation of rules. The Minister also came across illegal structures including some upcoming hotels
Pertinently, it takes years for resident of these areas to obtain permission to construct residential houses while hotels and other commercial buildings come up in no time.
The residents also told the minister that the entire permission approval system in BBC is being run by a local engineer and the top Board officials adhere to his nod.
Similarly, the residents of Indira Nagar, Shivpora and Batwara accused the Cantonment Board of marking electric poles erected by PDD as its own that the Board enlists the work done by PDD as BBC's.
Mir, who is also MoS Power, directed the PDD officials to replace the wooden electric poles with cement polls and paste PDD stickers on them.
At Indira Nagar, locals urged the Minister to take the control of all the civilian areas coming under the Board. "This Board is a big nuisance for us. Whatever development takes place, that happens inside the boundary walls of the Badamibagh Cantonment ," said Ghulam Ahmad, a resident.
Mir, who is also the local MLA, said that in the deadly deluge of the last year, Indira Nagar, Shivpora and many parts of Sonwar continued to remain inundated even after the flood water receded to zero in rest of the places in Srinagar. "It was due to the fact that drainage in these areas got chocked leaving them sub-merged," he said. The Minister has also directed the Tehsildar concerned to frame a list of hotels and commercial units who are operating without permission and proper sewerage treatment plants. "There has to be action against such hotels and commercial establishments," he said.
When GK approached the CEO BB Cantonment Board for his version of the minister's direction, he was unavailable for comment.
Background: The Badamibagh Cantonment is a class II Cantonment established in the year 1954, covering a total area of 1458.537 Acres including civil area of 313.50 Acres. As per Census figure of 2011, the total population in BB Cantonment is 22214.