Rehabilitate evicted shopkeepers

Developing, renovating, relocating or dismantling any existing structure of any type in the city or elsewhere cannot be done unless some structural changes necessarily to be brought in, did not disturb physical existing equations. In other words , some sort of disturbance, dislocation, shifting etc, in the process, are bound to take place. Many a time , the Government and its various agencies encounter resistance, even face court cases, when it comes to dislocating some households, shops , structures and other entities where genuine economic and commercial activities were carried on in order to widen existing roads, build a flyover or shift or expand an existing bus depot or air field and the like. That is precisely not for the reason that development and innovative changes for the better are not liked by the people of the area but the issues of compensation, relocating alternate sites, reimbursing cost of damages, paying ex-gratia and other forms of indemnification either take unusually long periods or by the time actual payments are made, they are not in congruence with the existing prevailing market prices . The “File” culture is so deep ingrained in our officialdom and bureaucratic culture that all wilful delays, reluctance to take prompt decisions and all other ifs and buts are attributed to “File” movement.
Twenty two shops carrying on with their small business for years together from the premises of Old Bus Stand duly permitted by the Jammu Development authority (JDA) had to vacate the place resulting in the demolishing of their shops as the Bus Stand was to be converted into better public utility purposes and decongest the area . The concerned shopkeepers who initially were quite reluctant in parting with their shops due to the trust deficit on the Government agencies to move properly and with speed in resolving matters which emerge as aftermaths of initiation of such developmental projects, reportedly at the mediation of some political leaders finally agreed on the condition that they were provided with alternate places. This all happened in 2017 and within three months time, these 22 shops should have been operating from Narwal Inter State Bus Terminal (ISBT) itself. However, the fact of the matter is that even though shops at the ISBT are constructed , these displaced shopkeepers from the Old Bus Stand have not been allotted shops by the JDA.
These shopkeepers are earning their livelihood by sitting and “doing their small business” from the footpaths on the road and have been contacting each and every concerned official for resolving their issue. The question is of livelihood and no means whatsoever should be used for whatever genuine cause which could snatch or affect one’s livelihood unless a better alternative was provided by the Government. Agreed, sooner or later, these disestablished, if not strictly uprooted, shop keepers would be allotted shops in the ISBT at Narwal but why this inordinate delay of three years when the shops were built nearly as many years earlier. What rationale or basis can be spelt out for causing so long a delay and who was responsible for that must be found out and suitable remedial action taken. Such unwanted delays breed corruption besides putting to avoidable trouble the affected persons.
However, it is not that such eviction, or dislocation was the last one but factually the evolution of developmental process being on continuous basis brings with it, a bit of such collateral issues and if such an attitude post dislocation was exhibited by Government agencies as a routine, problems were likely to creep up with prospects of hindering , if not marring, future similar developmental projects and innovative programme implementations.