Chairman of the moderate faction of the Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, on Friday spoke of “unprecedented corruption” in the Omar Abdullah government, the boom of unauthorised constructions and the “large scale violation” of the Master Plan of Srinagar.
The cleric-politician, who delivers a sermon at the Friday afternoon congregational prayers at his religious seat of Jama Masjid every week as per tradition, expressed his concern over what he called “unprecedented corruption” and “total absence of accountability” in the State government. It was beyond everyone’s comprehension, he said, why government officials were hand-in-glove with the abusers of the Srinagar Master Plan and the same people, when pulled up by the courts, were sealing off and dismantling hotels, restaurants and shopping malls.
“Hundreds of these [unauthorised buildings] did not come up overnight,” Mr. Farooq said. Government officials in successive regimes, particularly in the last five years, he said, did not oppose the boom in illegal constructions, encroachment of land and other violations of the Master Plan in return for bribe money and other favours.
“Nobody has held them accountable for such constructions or asked them what they had been doing when these structures came up in full knowledge of the people and the government,” the Hurriyat leader said.
He said that the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, the Srinagar Development Authority and the Lakes & Waterways Development Authorities had become the hub of corruption in the last few years.
“These institutions mint huge money from general public for conversion of residential buildings into commercial. Aren’t these institutions hand-in-glove with the accused in violating the Master Plan,” Mr. Farooq said. While asserting that nobody had any hope of justice and accountability from the State government, he urged his audience to introspect.
“While the government is to blame for violations and illegal constructions, we should equally self-introspect,” he said, lamenting that new residential colonies were coming up in an unplanned manner as there was little provision for amenities such as water, drainage and electricity. He alleged that the “economic exploitation” was part of the government’s strategy to keep the people of Jammu and Kashmir dependent on New Delhi.