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Jammu Kashmir

Posted at: Sep 13, 2017, 12:16 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2017, 12:16 AM (IST)

Follow building bylaws for religious structures: SMC

Follow building bylaws for religious structures: SMC

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, September 12

To put a stop on the haphazard growth of religious structures, the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) has made site suitability analysis and safety measures mandatory for getting building permit for such structures.

As per the new SMC directive, the religious structures, which have become a major stumbling block for development projects, particularly road widening, will have to conform to structural safety for earthquake resistance.

The heads of the religious structures have to put in place fire and emergency measures, additional staircase for emergency exit, fire extinguishers, proper cross-ventilation and measures to avoid stampede during large gatherings.

“The management body of socio-religious and socio-cultural centres shall also be ready with equipment, necessary as the first responders during disasters, which shall include identification and listing of volunteers at the community level,” reads the SMC order issued by Joint commissioner, Planning, SMC, Ghulam Hassan Mir. The directive was sent to all heads of the religious bodies in Srinagar.

The SMC has also shown displeasure over the ill-defined boundaries of graveyards in the city.

“In case of graveyards situated adjacent to roads, the graves should be distanced from the edge of the roads i.e. the maintenance of the grave line on the analogy of the building line criteria, which would make road widening possible without hurting the religious sentiments of any community,” the SMC said.

The haphazard religious structures and graveyards have become a major hurdle in road widening and establishment of other public infrastructure at various places in Srinagar, particularly in old city.

The SMC has asked the civil society members and mohalla committees to refrain from raising any religious building without proper permission under relevant building bylaws and regulations governing the establishment of buildings.

“They are advised to approach the SMC along with requisite documents, including land records and building plans,” it said.

The SMC has, however, exempted the permit fee for construction of buildings made purely for prayers under the building bylaws of 2011. “The haphazard urban planning and issues of severe problems in urban mobility in the city prompted us to invoke the already existing building bylaws regarding construction of religious structures,” SMC Commissioner Shafqat Khan said.

Khan said the religious buildings formed an integral part of urban planning and could not be built in isolation or in violation of norms. “No religious structure will be allowed on encroached property and government land unless the same is transferred to the management of the religious structures,” he said.

Safety steps

  • As per the new directive, the religious structures will have to conform to structural safety for earthquake resistance
  • The heads of the religious structures have to ensure fire and emergency measures, additional staircase for emergency exit, fire extinguishers, proper cross-ventilation, besides taking steps to avoid stampede during large gatherings

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