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May 14, 2012 at 10:23am IST

Top J&K official flouts green norms

Srinagar: Three weeks after CNN-IBN showed how hotels were coming up in Srinagar's green zone, another environment violation has come to light. This time, it is a bureaucrat's bungalow that is located right next to a protected sanctuary.

A farmhouse belonging to Farooq Renzu, a senior bureaucrat close to the Omar Abdullah government, is right next to the Dachigam National Park. It is yet another example of how the Lakes and Waterways Authority is turning a blind eye to the gross violations near a wildlife sanctuary that is home to Hangul, the endangered red deer species.

The palatial farmhouse not only violates the green belt norms but also the Supreme Court guidelines for the preservation of wildlife.

Wildlife Warden of Central Kashmir Imtiyaz Lone said, "There are eco-zones to be set up next to the park but structures like these should not be there."

Renzu claimed that the house was constructed 15 years ago, but the Lakes authority said that it came up illegally over the past few years and said that it could not monitor the violation because it is short-staffed. The explanation has few takers.

Law officer of the Lakes authority Shabir Kantt said, "The building is illegal. We have issued a notice to the owner and will soon get his response."

Renzu headed the Information Department till he was shifted out on May 10. His house has been attached. The state Human Rights Commission has also questioned the construction. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is said to upset about these frequent violations in the green belt area. This may make the Lakes authority pull its socks up.