We have taken permission from SMC: Traders
The recent floods that ravaged Kashmir have provided a window of opportunity for illegal constructions in the city centre under the nose of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). Lal Chowk was under 14-feet of water when the floods ravaged Srinagar on September 7. All shops in the city centre were under water for nearly two weeks damaging many of them. However, taking the undue advantage of floods which kept administration busy, the shopkeepers in Regal Lane, Abi Guzar started building permanent structures at their damaged temporary shops. Some shopkeepers accused the SMC officials of being hand-in-glove with the building law violators. “It is not possible for shopkeepers to rebuild their shops without the consent of authorities. These floods have only provided a cover for this activity. Even at some places, SMC allowed the violators to build two-story structures,” said a local shopkeeper. During the day the shopkeepers keep their shops closed while during the nights they continue masonry works hoodwinking the administration. “They (Shopkeepers) are carrying the construction work at night. They know they won’t be allowed to construct shops during day time,” said one of the SMC employees wishing anonymity. Lal Chowk is the business centre of Kashmir where big shops and showrooms are located. However, traders in Lal Chowk said they have proper permission from authorities to rebuild their shops. President of Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation (KTMF) Mohammad Yasin Khan said the re- construction work in Lal Chowk is being carried out under the proper norms laid out by SMC. “There is no violation of rules. We have proper permission from authorities to carry the reconstruction work. I don’t know why some miscreants are spreading false reports of illegal construction in the city,” said Khan Khan said shortage of wood and its high prices are compelling shopkeepers to use bricks for rebuilding their damaged shops. “Shopkeepers in Lal Chowk have proper rent agreement for shops with authorities under which they are authorized to carry any reconstruction of their shops under SMC Master Plan.” A local shopkeeper Mohammad Altaf said SMC has given them the permission to rebuild their shops. “We have not carried out brick works of shops without the consent of authorities. We have proper permission from the authorities. SMC is also monitoring the rebuilding process,” said Altaf. Altaf said 50 percent of shops in Lal Chowk have not insured their shops and stocks. “We are suffering from great ordeal. We have lost everything in floods. At least, let us rebuild our shops to resume business again,” said Altaf.