Jammu: Majority of the pre-1947 residential houses (Evacuee Property) in old Jammu city have collapsed while many others have either been reconstructed giving them modern look or converted into commercial places eroding their historic relevance.
Among the existing structures, the Custodian (Evacuee Property) Department has declared eight such EP residential houses at Dalpatian Mohalla and Pir Mitha as “unsafe to live in” and warned its occupants or tenants about “danger of living in these structures.”
An official wishing not to be quoted told Greater Kashmir that the Custodian Evacuee Property (EP) Department had taken control of over around 800 to 900 houses in Jammu city, following the partition of India and Pakistan. All of these structures were constructed before 1947 and there was no occupant in these houses at that time.
After the partition, the occupants or tenants started living in these houses having no owners although some of the owners re-claimed their properties.
However, the majority of the houses remained unclaimed and the people started living in these houses. They (tenants) divided the property among themselves i.e., two to three families by constructing small rooms.
“Basically, these families belong to poor financial backgrounds and hence, they are mostly unable to renovate their respective houses. Therefore, they are dependent upon the Custodian (EP) Department for renovation work, though many of them have changed the actual structures by giving them modern look,” said the official in the Custodian EP Department.
“These EP houses have historic importance. However, with the passage of time, these houses gradually were given a modern look by the occupants or tenants in the name of renovation. These houses of the pre-partition era were decorated with carved doors, mega entrances, lawns, huge rooms, galleries (with geometrical pattern) and beautiful red brick work,” he said.
“If the main entrance wall or doors still exist in some places, the main structures have collapsed due to no maintenance. In some unsafe structures, the families are still staying despite warnings to them. In some cases, commercial and modern structures have come up in place of the EP houses which represent historic importance of old Jammu city,” the official said and admitted that Jammu City can be developed on a tourism map.
The pre-partition style buildings with red brick work, doors and the outer walls still exist in parts of Wazarat Road, Residency Road and in some other densely populated localities of Jammu city.
The remains of these beautifully constructed houses with red brick work, wood carving, decorated windows and balconies can still be witnessed in Purani Mandi, Kanak Mandi, Lakhdata Bazar, Jain Bazar, Rajinder Bazar, Mubarak Mandi, Dalpatian Mohalla, Pir Mitha, Ustad Mohalla, Talab Khatikan, Partap Garh, Daru Gira Mohalla, Mast Garh, Link Road, Residency Road - Jammu, Wazarat Road, Canal Road, Bawe-wali Gali in Shaheedi Chowk, and Jogi Gate.
As most of these localities are congested, the collapse of decades-old buildings often poses a threat to the neighbours in narrow streets.
In one such case, a social activist, Sukesh C Khajuria told Greater Kashmir that he had submitted a representation before the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, informing her about “the remains of a double-storey building which had become a threat to the local surroundings or neighbourhood.”
“A two-storey old building was lying in dilapidated condition in Gali Gujjaran, opposite to Super Bazar (Jammu city). Almost two decades ago, one portion of the said building collapsed in which one of the dwellers died and her sister became permanently disabled. The tenants residing in the other portion vacated the building which was unsafe for human habitation,” he said, quoting content from the representation he gave to the DC Jammu.
He said, “Thereafter, the owners of the building have shifted to the Narayania Mohalla Kachi Chawni and the building has been lying vacant since then.”
“On June 28, 2022, another part of that building collapsed and the officials, with SDRF team, visited but no action was taken thereafter to remove the remains of the building. Its debris has become a cause of concern for the people,” he said.