The J-K high court on Tuesday sought property details of all Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) employees, their spouses and children up to the level of joint commissioners in the Srinagar’s massive master plan violations case.
The high court’s division bench, comprising justice Ali Muhammad Magray and justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, expressed their displeasure over the SMC report filed on officials who performed and are performing duties where the massive violations have taken place.
“These just seem safai-walas’ (scavengers) in the list. Where is chief khilaf warzi officer?” observed justice Attar when the SMC submitted a list of 41 officials for their role in the large-scale violations of the master plan.
“Submit property details, both movable as well as immovable, up to the level of chief khilaf warzi officer and joint commissioners, their spouses and children,” observed justice Attar. “Work overnight now. You have been working overnight when these violations came up,” he added.
The judges also observed that the SMC employees, identified by the corporation already, should submit an undertaking on the property details before the court.
“The SMC employees list shows gifts being offered by grandparents, washing machines on concessional rates etc. It seems proper consultations have been sought...An undertaking should be submitted on these movable and immovable properties to stop third party intervention,” noted the judges.
The court also expressed displeasure over the state’s response in the mass violations case. The government has said an expert committee is coming up with a policy to draft a new master plan within six months.
Reprimanding the SMC for its failure to implement rules on the ground, justice Attar said, “There is obvious connivance of the SMC employees in these large scale violations, otherwise, it could not have happened. Is it not your (the SMC) duty to implement rules of law?” observed justice Attar while referring to the performance of the SMC.
The judges had asked SMC commissioner Ghulam Nabi Qasba for personal appearance before the court on Tuesday.
Srinagar has witnessed mass violations in the last two decades. Huge malls have come up in residential areas changing the status of the land use.
Similarly, there are massive deviations where building laws have been violated. The magnitude of the problem can be gauged from the fact that residential areas like Karanagar, Jawahar Nagar and Shaltengh have completely turned into commercial hubs.
Under the court orders, the SMC has already sealed around 40 structures, housing offices, malls, banks and eateries. A rough estimate suggest around 3,000 tall buildings stand in violation of the master plan in the city.
As the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) seals 43 commercial structures in the city, Hindustan Times takes a stroll of the city to see the tall buildings of high and mighty intact and doing business without any fear. These are:
K C Hyundai showroom: The showroom has come up right on the Srinagar-Baramulla by-pass road in brazen violation. The owners had sought permission for a two-storey residential-cum-guest house from the Srinagar Development Authority. Instead, four-storey showroom is functioning without any fear of backlash from the authorities. The reason: It’s owned by Mohammad Aslam Khan, who is the father-in-law of chief minister Omar Abdullah’s sister.
JamKash Vehicleads: The Maruti sale centre at Hyderpora functions from a residential house as per the SDA records. Owned by Irfan Ahmad Narvaroo and Devender Singh Rana, very close to chief minister Omar Abdullah and the provincial president of the ruling National Conference, the structure remains untouched.
Ansari Motors: Owned by a power Shia cleric, Iftikhar Hussain Ansari, a key leader of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, the sale centre of Toyota has come up on agriculture land as per records near Srinagar’s Bemina area; that too without building permission.
Shuhul Motors: Former National Conference corporator, Bilal Ahmad Guroo, runs a showroom of Mahindra and Mahindra at the Shuhul Motors. It has been constructed without any permission.
Chevrolet Motors: The showroom of automobile company, Chevrolet, also runs from residential house as per the records. Owned by Ahsan Rather, son of a retired commissioner, runs the three-storey Chevrolet showroom illegally.
Peaks Automobiles: The Maruti showroom, Peaks Automobiles, runs from a farmhouse, according to the official records. Owned by Baldev Singh, a two-storey showroom was constructed in the garb of permission for a farm house.
Town Square: The multi-storey shopping mall has come in brazen violation of the master plan with no parking. Owned by the wife of former chief secretary Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, the malls is witnessing highest footfalls as other malls in the area faced sealing.