Encroachments in Kashmir, particularly around the water bodies, have continued unabated. Dal lake has been turned into a garbage din and continuous flow of human refuse into the water body has shrunk it in size. The stink in the lake water only tells upon the seriousness of the government to turn it into a tourist haunt. Government has failed to shift the people, who live around the water body, to Rakh-i-Arat at Bemina which was identified to clear it of the concrete clutter, and that is despite the promise made on the contrary. Local people resist being shifted out due to the difference in the estimates of the properties that government worked out and the values, that they believed, they deserve. As a result of this the Lake has turned putrid and a repellent for the trickle of tourists who are visiting Kashmir. Government has been planning to shift the house boats that remain anchored around the boulevard site towards the Hazratbal side, however it had not been able to achieve much on this front. Different authorities including the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), though having managed to pull down many of the illegal structures, have however not been able to check the rising up of concrete jungle around the lake. Massive encroachment has also been witnessed around other water bodies including Wullar lake and the phenomenon needs to be permanently curbed. There is an urgent need that the government takes up measures to arrest the massive illegality. Due to the encroachments a number of water bodies have been chocked that lead to floods also last year. During the unrest here people have taken advantage of the absence of law and order machinery and resorted to violation of building permissions to raise the structures and clogged the water bodies. Though the government has blamed people for the encroachments, however it can’t escape the responsibility and has to own the blame for violation of laws. Government machinery has been lax to check illegality and it must admit that and take corrective steps. Different agencies including the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and LAWDA need to activate their law enforcement units and prevent damage to the water bodies and arrest flagrant violation of building by-laws as well. Responsibilities need to be fixed for misuse of building permissions, which the people have resorted to in order to control the spate of encroachment.
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