SRINAGAR, Apr 15: Numerous incidents have been reported in Srinagar city where the construction permits were granted for residential purposes, but the owners have already raised, or are currently raising the commercial properties in connivance with the SMC staff especially posted in the field, and these constructions are later on regularized through a paid penalty at the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) headquarters.
Well placed sources revealed to Kashmir Despatch that when the building owners are granted permission for construction by SMC, they pay the building fee for residential construction, and later when their deviations are regularized, the penalty is also slapped according to residential parameters which cause a huge revenue loss to SMC.
Moreover, couching commercial constructions in residential permits also violates the Srinagar Master Plan, including its development regulations and the land-use plan. The previous Srinagar Master Plan which was first conceived in 1971 also fell prey to such uncalculated ground realities and later, the policymakers had to come up with another Master Plan and start from ground zero.
A case in point here where the commercial construction has been couched in the residential permit is a permission issued at Khanyar Srinagar for a two-storied house with an attic on a plinth area of 669 sq. ft.
Ironically, violating all the terms of permission, the said persons constructed a four-story commercial building over a plinth area of 1300 Sq. ft. Not only was the commercial building constructed in lieu of the residential but also, the number of stories and plinth size are twice the approved parameters.
While speaking with Kashmir Despatch, the chief enforcement officer Mr. Suhail Ahmad Chintsaz said that the said two persons raised the four-story commercial construction during the demolition notice period and after they finished the construction, the said two persons approached the Honourable Court of J&K Special Tribunal, following which the SMC was restrained to take any action via a stay order.
“Right after they deviated from the site plan, the said persons were served a demolition notice. However, they were able to raise the building during the 15-day notice period and once they were done, they approached the honorable court, which restrained us from taking any action via a stay order,” Mr. Chintsaz commented.
Mr. Chintsaz added further that such constructions are often regularized, and the same situation can be witnessed across the whole city of Srinagar.
However, an expert in housing policies while talking to the Kashmir Despatch said: “The big question here is—how the owners were allowed to deviate from the approved site plan and the basic requirements such as the fire gap and the parking space are being ignored. How was the construction raised to four floors, even when the permission was for only two stories residential house? The needle of suspicion points towards SMC, especially its ground staff, which has always been found hand in glove with such rule breakers.”
When Kashmir Despatch attempted to record the comments of Athar Amir Khan, Commissioner of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, over the matter of commercial constructions being couched in residential permits, he was not available.