Rooms hired by students to have standard rent; time redressal of complaints
Srinagar, Nov 10: District Magistrate, Srinagar has constituted a committee for fixation of rent of rooms hired by students in the city. The inter-departmental committee has been entrusted to finish the task within a period of 15 days. Meanwhile, directions have been issued to concerned authorities to ensure that students do not face inconvenience on this account.
The committee constituted with Assistant Commissioner Revenue as convener is comprised of Superintending Engineer PWD, Superintending Engineer Hydraulic, Superintending Engineer Power, Chief Education Officer and Deputy Controller Legal Metrology. Deputy Commissioner as chairman of District Rent Assessment Committee has tasked the team to arrive at a uniform rate to be fixed based on different types of accommodations offered to students in Srinagar city.
The committee will work out per square feet rent in different locations and also take into account the standard expenses involved viz a viz power and water supply, or any other recurring tariff. Department of Legal Metrology has been asked to received the complaints in case of violation and initiate action wherever instances of overcharging are detected.
It is pertinent to mention here that a large number of students in various areas of the city complained about overcharging of room rent and related issues. The district administration has accordingly initiated the process for a fair and transparent process to ensure standardisation of rent to be paid for hired properties.
Deputy Commissioner, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary directed the officers to obtain feedback from students as well as owners of such rented properties to the maximum extent possible for a fair assessment, working out the tariff on account of services as well as rentals per unit area to arrive at standard rates which is indispensable to do away with the reported instances of arbitrary overcharging of rent reported in many cases.
Subsequent to the fixation of rates by the District aren’t Assessment Committee the district administration having appointed Legal Metrology as the nodal department will receive complaints, related to the violation, at the district call centre for redressal and necessary action.
Wood shortage, high prices due to Russia-Ukraine war affect timber business in Kashmir
Srinagar: Every summer Altaf Ahmad 35, a small timber trader from north Kashmir Baramulla district used to be busy with his timber business, but this year instead of attending to customers at his unit, Altaf spends his day playing cricket in his village outskirts. The war in far-off lands has affected his business badly.
The prices of KD Wood mostly imported from Russia and Ukraine have soared many times, while the supply had dwindled.
“The Russia-Ukraine war has badly hit our timber business in Kashmir. This is the construction season here, we were expecting our business will double as there was lockdown from the past two seasons because of Covid19, but due to the war we are on the verge of complete breakdown this season too,” said Altaf Ahmad.
Altaf believes that their business is at a halt not only because of less supply of timber but also due to the less demand due to price rises as customers are reluctant to purchase at higher rates.
“There is the increase of 20% to 50% in the rates that has abruptly brought down the demand because customers are unable to purchase on such higher rates. We used to earn a good profit, but are presently on destruction mode where survival seems very much difficult,” said Altaf
Russia is one of the highest timber suppliers in the world and ranks as the seventh biggest exporter of forest products worldwide, which accounts for 22% of the global trade. And it clearly shows that the global market will continuously impact as long the Russia-Ukraine war continues. A country like China, which is in support of Russia in the conflict, has also been affected by limited trade sanctions as it depends on the import of timber, logs, and wood chips even for their domestic use.
Halted construction work
For Sajad, who was planning to complete the pending works of his newly built house and get married next year, the Russia- Ukraine conflict has brought a tsunami of hopelessness because the sudden surge in the timber rates has halted his plans of construction work and marriage back home, he feels it is unbearable to bear all the expenses in such a tough situation where other commodities all already in the surge.
“The sudden increase in timber rates halted all my construction works because, I was expected to purchase timber say for example for Rs 1 lakh, now it will cost me Rs 1.5 lakhs an increase of fifty thousand. Now, I am too confused about whether to do it or not,” said Sajad Ahmad from the Bemina area of Srinagar.
Showkat Ahmad another timber trader from North Kashmir says Ukraine timber was mostly used in Kashmir for the past couple of years as compared to Russian and German timber because Ukraine timber was available at cheaper rates. With a war going on in Ukraine the demand for German and Russia will arise, but it’s going very much costlier for customers.
“People prefer Ukraine timber because it’s easily affordable for them in contrast with German and Russian timber due to its low cost. The war in Ukraine has put everyone both (buyer and seller) in a catch22 situation because one doesn’t know what’s going to happen next,” says Showkat Ahmad who deals with the timber business for the past decade.
Business Kashmir visited various units in central and north Kashmir among them was Changa Timber Gallery, Sopore.
“I am into this business for the last one year but, I think this kind of situation will only benefit those dealers who have piles of stock available in the stores because they can increase rates on that stock which they have purchased at low rates earlier and a trader like me will go more into loss due to these unprecedented rates who’s new into this business and has very much less stock available at times,” says Aijaz Ahmad Changa, a 30-year-old BCom graduate.
Kashmiri Timber Traders mostly purchase timber from Gujarat and in Gujarat, they directly import the timber from Russia, Ukraine, and Germany. Business Kashmir contacted Singla Timbers Private Limited one of the oldest timber factories in Mithirhar, Gandhidham Gujarat who are in this business since 1946.
“The whole world is witnessing inflation it will remain for some time maybe for another year and there is also less supply of timber from the last few months because of that we are witnessing an increase in the rates of timber,” says Pulkit Singla director Singla Timbers.
“Kashmiri traders prefer Ukraine timber because of low price, but at the same time Ukraine timber also differs in quality in comparison to others.”
He says the lack of local wood production forces people to buy imported wood.
“India only imports 2% of the world produced timber. The local timber in India is not of that quality and one has gone through a long process before getting its access. The forests are like agricultural fields for countries like Russia and Ukraine, they cut the trees and do the plantation of it again and again but, in India, that thing is lacking. It’s also because of the weather,” he said.
Altaf and other timber traders in Kashmir are now waiting and praying for the end of the war in Ukraine so that their business will see that charm again.
“I only want the war in Ukraine to end, so that our miseries will also end,” concluded Altaf.
How Kashmiri Architecture takes its influence from Ancient Rome
Insha S Qazi
Different traditions of art and history unfold when we talk about the architecture of Kashmir which is way more than houseboats, apple trees, Wazwaan and postcard-worthy sceneries. We often talk about its Islamic, Buddhist and Hindu cultural amalgamation in terms of architecture. This can be seen, for example, in the ubiquitous pagoda-style construction of mosques such as Khanqah-i-Maulla (Great Khanqah) or the mausoleum-shrine complex of Shaikh Hamza Makhdumi, who was a leading Suharwardi saint of Kashmir during the 16th century. It is considered a unique combination of vernacular design with Mughal elements but how often do we talk about how it’s been influenced by Ancient Rome.
Half-timbered houses, known as Dajji-Diwaree in Kashmir have a long history. Dajji-Diwaree was used as a construction technique by the ancient Romans in the 1st Century BC. Though, the design was cautioned against by Vitruvius who labelled it as a fire hazard. It involved mud, stones and bricks as filling in wooden braced structures. Considering the frequency with which earthquake would visit Kashmir this style suited best here.
You will come across these rectangular buildings, columns, preferable Doric or Ionic, made of stone or brick, sometimes covered with stone (marble), like many Roman buildings. Symmetry was a key feature of the Classical Style especially post-fall of Rome. The most authentic half-timbered buildings are not symmetrical.
Above and in the below picture from Aali Kdal, Srinagar, you will find Roman Revival architecture such as spires, buttresses, pointed arch door surrounds and windows and decorative ironwork; medieval influences including, steeply pitched roofs.
- Ornate gables with lots of wooden work.
- Painted iron railings.
- Plain or colourfully painted brick, woodwork motifs, whites and rich dark colours such as ruby red, forest green which heavily symbolises Victorian roman architecture.
The Roman arch solved an important problem by being able to support a large amount of weight. As a result, it enabled people to build larger and more varied buildings. The spread of the Roman arch and its cousins, the vault and dome, has had a lasting impact on architecture throughout the world.
You can’t look at one and know it’s built of wood. In keeping with the post-half-timbered buildings return to the classical style, your hidden wood-framed house may be surfaced with a return to ancient Greece and Rome, an exterior of stone or brick. So, to make it obvious, half-timbered buildings featured exposed wood on both the exterior and interior (fake or real wood ceiling beams in the interior rooms, and what is better seen in photos rather than trying to explain in words, but it’s important to note that the exposed interior wood in half-timbered buildings is both decorative and structural. The spaces between the exposed wood timbers is filled in with brick and then the brick is plastered over and painted, mostly in a whine, but in some regions, most notably Alsace in France, in glorious pastel colours.
Above window elevation, Faceted window frames project from the slatted timber and stained-glass facade of this apartment block in downtown.
As a whole, the European advent was marked by a relative insensitivity to native art traditions; former Indian patrons of art became less wealthy and influential, and Western art became more ubiquitous. The fusion of Indian traditions with European style at this time became evident in architectural styles; as with the Mughals, architecture under European colonial rule became an emblem of power designed to endorse the occupying power.
St Mary’s Church in Gulmarg is one of the rarest sights that you will ever come across over here. The St. Mary’s Church was built during British rule at the beginning of the 20th century, a visit to this church is sure to transport you years back in the time. This Roman Catholic Church is a beautiful example of Victorian architecture, located near the golf course on 3 sides whereas the rest is occupied by a mountain in Gulmarg. With grey stone walls and a green tiled roof with wooden trimmings, it seems more of a small-countryside chapel.
An educationist, Insha S Qazi runs a fashion & design school in Kashmir. She has a degree in civil engineering.
Construction material prices expected to fall significantly: LG Sinha
Srinagar, Jan 26: Asserting that the construction material prices in Jammu and Kashmir are expected to fall significantly in the coming days, Lt Governor Manoj Kumar Sinha Tuesday said the rates of building material had gone up due to complex auctioning process of mining blocks.
The Lt Governor was addressing the people of Jammu and Kashmir on the eve of 72nd Republic Day.
He said J&K Government has simplified the complex mining process as the e-auctioning of the mineral blocks is being done by the Geology and Mining Department in a transparent manner.
“Due to the complex auctioning process, the prices of construction material had gone up, which are expected to fall significantly in the coming days. The revenue of the Union Territory will increase, strengthening the economy,” he said.
Construction material prices in Jammu and Kashmir has witnessed the unprecedented rise, after the mineral blocks of the union territory were opened for e-auction and new environmental rules were applied for the extraction of all minor minerals, including sand and gravel from riverbeds.
Similarly, the prices of bricks too shot up after brickkilns faced labour shortage post-August 5, 2019, which continued during in COVID19 hit 2020.
To control the rising brick prices, the government later fixed the maximum price for the bricks to control the rates.
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