In a welcome gesture from the Sikh community, Gurdwara Damdama Sahib, established in 1947 and located along the Srinagar-Baramulla road, is going to be shifted to facilitate the construction of National Highway following an understanding on Thursday between the gurdwara management and the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar.
The gurdwara served migrant families from Pakistan and remained a place to halt not only for the Sikhs but people of all faiths. It organised langars (community kitchens) and social service initiatives. It also sheltered flood and earthquake victims.
In 2006, the government started construction of National Highway from Srinagar to Baramulla. Several utilities/structures remained bottlenecks under the highway alignment.
The Srinagar-Baramulla stretch is executed by the Border Roads Organisation while Anantnag-Srinagar part is done by the NHAI.
The road was completed in 2013. However, due to litigation in the High Court, four bottlenecks remained. These included the gurdwara, a power line, a petrol filling station and water supply lines. A land owner whose land was proposed for relocation of gurdwara objected to it and obtained a stay in 2014. Ever since then the land owner, the gurdwara committee, Collector land acquisition and the government have been locked in litigation.
Finally on Thursday, the gurdwara started making way for construction of the National Highway after successful talks between the gurdwara management and Deputy Commissisoner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary.
After a series of meetings during the last one week and examining a host of options to resolve the issue, both sides arrived at an agreement. This included alternate land and reconstruction of the gurdwara at a nearby land finalised by the Deputy Commissioner in consultation with the Sikh community.
It was more of the strategic resolution than compensation. The community elders and the management of gurdwara Damdama Sahib agreed to the offer of the Deputy Commissioner.
On Thursday, in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner and gurdwara management members, the demolition of the gurdwara began. The gurdwara will now function from a makeshift space till a new gurdwara is reconstructed at the agreed location. The state PWD has been entrusted with construction of the gurdwara as per the design provided by the Sikh Sangat.
The gesture of the Sikh community here has made history in Kashmir. The administrative outreach of DC Srinagar to resolve the 13-year-long complex issue is an example of proactive approach for efficient resolution aimed at public welfare.
( 409 Words)