Official apathy takes sheen off historic Eidgah

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Stinking garbage dumps, inundated ground and choked drains! This is the scene at historic Eidgah in Downtown here. 
Failure of successive regimes to take sustained measures for developing Eidgah has taken sheen off from it. 
Historians say around six centuries ago, 400 kanals of land at Eidgah was donated to Kashmiris by Mir Muhammad Hamdani (RA), son of sufi saint Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani (RA)—who brought art and crafts into Kashmir from Central Asia.
However, locals said Eidgah has been barely reduced to around 70 kanals as successive regimes failed to keep check on its encroachment.
“It is believed that Aali Masjid was at centre of Eidgah. However, human greed has shrunken it to the level that the masjid now forms one of its corners,” said noted poet and historian Zareef Ahmad Zareef.
He said in 1975, the then government appointed Munshi Ahmad Ali to constitute Eidgah’s land record “When government in 1975 appointed a team led by Munshi Ahmad Ali to consolidate Auqaf-Islami assets, identification of Eidgah land was formally done. Before that, no formal record existed,” said Zareef.
In 2004, the then government had made a comprehensive Rs 1.72 Cr beautification project for beautification of Eidgah under integrated Circuit Development Scheme. The scheme included ornamental fencing, development of park, construction of footpath and lavatory block along with waste disposal, administrative cum ticket block, shelter shed and lighting arrangements. 
In 2006, Eidgah was trifurcated into park, playground and prayer ground. However, defunct drainage system has turned maximum portion of the Eidgah into a cesspool.  
A portion of Eidgah meant for playground is inundated due to choked drainage system. Flock of sheep can be seen grazing in the park meant for recreational purposes, thus devouring it of its vegetation.   
“Till few decades ago, there used to be football carnival here. From past many years, the ground meant to play games is being used by several driving institutes to teach driving. This signifies government’s failure to develop the play ground,” said Ghulam Ahmad Bhat, a former footballer of Eidgah.
Locals accused successive regimes of failing to keep a constant vigil on ‘unscrupulous’ elements, who are making constant attempts to encroach upon leftover prized Eidgah land.
“Frequent attempts are being made by land mafia to encroach upon Eidgah land from Naikpora side. Recently, a couple was robbed of all their money near the park while they were returning from marriage party in evening. Besides, the place has turned into safe haven for gamblers, drug addicts and alcoholics,” said Muhammad Shafi Dar, a local shopkeeper.
“This park is historic. It is ironical that many people from adjacent areas are leaving their animals here for grazing. This has taken sheen out of it,” he said. 
“Government is visible only on Eid when congregational prayers are offered here,” the locals said. 
Residents said defunct drainage system is deteriorating Eidgah’s condition with administration turning a blind eye towards it.
“Water table of Eidgah is on the higher side. Accumulated water has no outlet.  All outlet channels via Gilsar Sar, Khushal Sar and Anchar lake are lying choked causing accumulation of water in Eidgah,” said a retired engineer Jallaludin who resides at Eidgah.
He explained that Eidgah’s soil texture before three decades was “sandy”. “People used to collect sand from Eidgah during rainy season, but its soil texture was changed after government carried out its filling,” he said.  
The locals said dewatering pump installed near Aali Masjid is also defunct. “It rarely functions,” said a group of locals at Ganderpora locality of Eidgah.
Advisor to Governor, Khursheed Ahmad Ganai, who is also chairman of Wakf Board, assured to look into the matter. “I am currently in Jammu. I will visit Srinagar on Thursday and look into it,” he said.

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