Kashmir Indepth

Commercialization of residential areas goes unchecked in Srinagar ko

Ishtiyaq Ahmad

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Srinagar, Mar 23 (KINS): Posh residential areas in the Srinagar city are fast turning into breeding grounds for unauthorized conversion of residential properties for commercial purposes.

Sources told news agency KINS, that Housing Colonies in Srinagar were developed for residential purposes and no commercial building permissions were accorded in these colonies other than the area earmarked for commercial activity by the Housing Board.

However sources said that the majority of these housing colonies have acquired the status of more of a commercial hub having big shopping centres of every type than remaining a Housing Colony and commercial activities start from the famous Green Belt area covering all the main arteries and sub-lanes of posh colonies.

Sources said that besides many illegal structures have also sprouted up; there have been many such instances in the recent past, with the authorities turning a blind eye to them. “In place of sprawling bungalows and expansive green spaces, Dozens of fresh commercial spaces are seen rearing their heads in various parts of the city,” sources maintained.

Sources said that though the residential areas have been constructed under planned colonies developed by Jammu and Kashmir Housing Board, Srinagar Development Authority (SDA), but, the scores of owners have changed the land use of residential plots in violation to the existing building norms.

Sources said in Srinagar’s city Jawahar Nagar, Rajbagh, Gogjibagh, Wazirbagh and Karan Nagar, Bemina, Qamarwari, Shalteng which are well planned residential colonies are fast turning into commercial areas in complete violation of Srinagar Master Plan guidelines. “The residents said that there have been several instances when they have lodged complaints with the authorities against people, for renting out their residences for commercial purposes. However, no action was taken by the authorities beyond issuing a customary notice to such residents.

Moreover, it has also been seen that residential owners who have rented their residences for commercial purposes have been paying property tax as per taxes applicable for residential property.
This is considerably less than the tax applicable for commercial property.

“As per the Master Plan of the Housing Colony, in every block and sector there is provision for minimarket. However, a few years back when authority of law and order had started gradually diminishing, the residential colony started turning into a hub of commercial activities,” sources maintained.

Sources said that in the earmarked residential zones, nursing homes, restaurants, insurance offices, banks, and beauty salons etc. have come up with full immunity.

Many reports were prepared in the past to identify all illegal commercial conversions in order to take action but nothing has happened.

Sources said that enforcement wings exist in all but a kind of game goes on in between these agencies wherein they keep shifting the blame from one to other.

A senior official, on condition of anonymity, said that the enforcement agencies have been asked to remove all the illegal constructions in the city. “Many issues are involved, including laxity on part of the enforcement agencies,” the official maintained.

However the official said that though a number of notices are issued to violators, people go to court and get a stay.(KINS)

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