Srinagar, Sep 12 (UNI) Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad today called for speeding up acquisition of all structures adjacent to the historic Hazratbal shrine, housing the holy relic of the Prophet Mohammad, for its expansion.
Mr Azad, who is also the chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Muslim Wakf Board, visited the Hazratbal shrine to inspect development works and expansion of the shrine premises.
After paying obeisance at the shrine, he went round the 250 kanals (12.5 hectares) premises and took stock of works going on to expand and beautify the complex. The Chief Minister inspected the pace of work on acquisition of nearby structures to expand the premises and allow more space for congregational prayers.
He gave instructions to speed up the construction work of a fountain in the cherry garden and use of locally available diver stone on pavements in the shrine complex. Mr Azad also asked the officials concerned to dig up two tube wells for watering the turf in the developed cherry garden.
The Chief Minister called for speeding up acquisition of nearby 81 structures of which 30 have been removed so far. The acquisition would add another 13 kanals of land to the shrine complex.
As many as 27 plots have been already allotted to the affected families while efforts were on to rehabilitate others as well.
Mr Azad said on special occasions like Eid and Friday the devotees would have enough space to offer congregational prayers without any inconvenience. The complex was now spacious and open, he added.
The Chief Minister said expansion of the shrine complex was going on in a phased manner and asserted that it was his endeavour to provide all possible facilities to the devotees thronging the most revered shrine in Kashmir. The shrine complex was today more spacious and beautiful than last year, he added.
During the past one year, several measures were taken to beautify and expand the shrine premises with the Chief Minister taking special interest in the project.
The 65 kanals (3.25 hectares) of the cherry garden have been laid with turf and developed after removing wild growth of elephant grass. The 52 kanals (2.6 hectares) on the western premises were also redone, allowing space for another 50,000 people to offer prayers.
The expanded premises would ensure that the devotees could now offer congregational prayers without breaks in prayer rows.
For the convenience of devotees, the Economic Reconstruction Agency was constructing 36 bathrooms, while the Wakf Board had taken up the work of another 30. Of these, 20 have been completed. As of now, there were 172 bathrooms in the shrine complex.