Given up at last

A Criminal Waste of Time, Money and Energy
Given up at last

There have been umpteen episodes of Kashmiri expatriatestrying to give something back to the place of their birth, to float projects inhealth and education in the Kashmir valley. Two such schemes come to mindimmediately. In one case, the eminent cardiologist, Dr. Fayaz Shawl, offered tobuild a hospital, state of the art, in the valley, that would be the best inthe sub-continent. This hospital, besides putting Kashmir on the medicaltourism map, would go a long way in helping the local population. However,after wasting many months of his valuable time, he is reported to have hit astone wall when it came to finding suitable land. The incumbent government andthe responsible officials and ministers were keen to receive a part of the cakebefore any permissions could be given.

On another occasion, a group of doctors from the UK girdedup their loins, and with great passion, acquired land in Srinagar, with a viewto build a multi-disciplinary hospital in Chanapora area. They bought the landon the express assurance of the authorities that permission will be accordedwhen they make proper application.  Theproposals were drafted, architects employed, drawings and other documentsprepared. A few years were spent on finalizing the scheme which was submitted,in the fond hope of receiving approvals, as was promised to the doctors. Again,even after putting more funds and effort to get approval, and running frompillar to post, they knew this to be an exercise in futility.

They flew back to their dens abroad, licking their wounds.

In my case, again with the sole intention of doing somethingfor the place where both my parents are buried, I purchased land in Wanabalarea of Srinagar. I am resident in the UK for the last 40 years, but my lovefor my people and places in Kashmir has kept me visiting every year, stayingbetween 1 to 2 months. The architects told me that the land plot was suitablefor construction of a poly-clinic with a few indoor patient facility.  They said, this scheme would be exactly aslaid down in the master plan, and therefore should receive approval.

The plot of land belonged to a Hindu dogra family fromJammu. It took me a year to complete the transfer of the land into my namebecause of the migrant land transfer Act which imposed very intricaterequirements to be fulfilled. All these were fulfilled, but still for noapparent reason the transfer did not take place, until I had paid further"expenses", discreetly under the table.

After getting the land transferred, I immediately set myarchitects to work, who produced a very beautiful scheme for a polyclinic withassociated gardens, kids playing areas, etc. and ample parking spaces. Thisprocess took another year. I was now into the 2nd year of my project.

The architects produced plans which were submitted to theBOCA organization of Srinagar municipality. The deliberations of BOCA were soprotracted that even after another one and a half year, I was left with noanswer from them. I was now into the 4th year of my project.

The BOCA organization finally approved my scheme, aftermaking me wait for 2 years, and after I had paid Rs. 6 Lacs in fees, for whichthey gave me a receipt,  and another Rs.7 Lacs in "expenses".  I was now into the5th year of my project.

After the plans were approved, I set my architects to workagain, to produce final construction drawings and do any fine tuning of theproposals, before I started the construction. The architects took another yearin doing this, and produced sets of drawings with full construction details.

I was now into the 6th year of my project. I started thework in right earnest, after giving notice to the municipality. Bull dozerswent to work to excavate foundations. All seemed hunky dory, and I was over themoon, that finally, my efforts were bearing fruit. Lo and Behold I was slappedwith a stay order from the magistrate's court and also from the SDA authority. I could not understand the stayfrom the SDA, because they are an integral part of the BOCA organization. Theyhad approved my scheme through BOCA.

A deep sense of consternation overwhelmed me. I went intodepression for a length of time. I was consoled by friends and relatives, whowere of the opinion that these stay orders would be quickly lifted because Iwas holding a valid permission for construction. I was happy and went to workfor lifting of the stay orders through an eminent lawyer of the valley.

It took well over 2 years in the magistrate's court, to havethe stay order lifted. But before I could go to the site with my machinesagain, I was told that the magistrate's order had been appealed against in theSessions Court.

I was now into the 8th year of my project.

I was now hell bent on fighting the case, to eternity. Icould not accept the injustice of the system and wished to see where exactly itwould end. I fought the case through the session court. This took another year,before the honorable judge decided the case in my favor.

I was now into the 9th year of my project. With renewed zealand enthusiasm, I went to work on my project again. To my dismay, I found thatby now, the original permission from BOCA had now expired.

I pleaded with the then Commissioner, Mr. Qasba, of themunicipality, that it was not my fault if the work was stepped through courtorders, and therefore, the original permission should be renewed. He assured methat I was right and the renewal should be a pure formality and would be givenvery soon.

I am now into the 13th year of my project, still waiting forthe permission to be renewed.

I have finally given up hope to build anything on this plotof land.

(The author is Bsc Engg (Aligarh), Msc Engg (Leeds) UK)

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