The local administration has begun clearing encroachments from the Khushal Sar lake located in the old Srinagar and plans to remove over 300 identified encroachments. On Saturday, 25 encroachments, including structures and compounds, were removed and over 30 kanals of the lake area were retrieved.
The administration had completed relevant formalities, like inspections, verifications, and issuance of notices to encroachers. It had been preparing for the long-overdue action for the last few months.
Identified encroachments in the lake area include around 80 houses details of which were compiled last year by the district revenue department. The other 220 encroachments are in the forms of fenced landholdings, plinths and sheds, and also include under-construction structures.
The squatters, who have built residential houses in the lake area, were served several eviction notices in the last several months.
While the first eviction notice was issued after the retrieval process was initiated following Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Iqbal Choudhary's visit to the area in May 2019, the last eviction notice was served last month.
The administration, which appealed squatters to self-demolish their structures and leaves the place, has warned that any obstruction will invite strict criminal proceedings as per the law.
The District Magistrate has also ordered a probe into illegal power connections to these structures and the possible involvement of officials in their construction as well.
The Khushalsar lake, once a vast and thriving water-body with clear water, was the source of livelihood for many. Today it is in bad condition due to encroachments and land-filling.
Meanwhile, Choudhary has urged people to report to authorities all cases of land-grabbing and illegal constructions on state land and water-bodies to safeguard these public assets of great importance.