Srinagar: The state government on Friday introduced a Bill in Legislative Assembly which seeks to protect thousands of unauthorized structures in the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu besides Katra town against forcible action by any local authority for at least one year.
The Bill (no. 5 of 2014) was introduced by Minister for Urban Development and Urban Local Bodies, Nawang Rigzin Jora.
“Nothing contained in any law, regulation, bye-law or order, for the time being in force in the state, shall prevent the government from formulating a policy before March 31, 2015 to deal with or regulate unauthorised constructions of buildings or structures in the local area to which this Act applies,” reads a section of the Bill.
“Notwithstanding anything contained to the contrary in any law, rule, regulation, by-law, or order for the time being in force, or any judgment, decree or order of any court or tribunal, no building or structure shall be demolished or sealed, and no penalty shall be imposed in respect of such buildings or structures, on the ground of such building or structure having been constructed or erected in violation of Master Plan pending finalisation of the policy under Section 3,” reads the subsequent section of the draft of the proposed temporary legislation in the state.
All notices issued by any local authority for initiating action against unauthorized constrictions or Master Plan violations in the areas—Jammu, Srinagar, Katra—shall be deemed to have been suspended until March 31, 2015 or until a policy is formulated by the government, whichever is earlier, it reads further.
“If any local authority intends to take any punitive action against any person in respect of the buildings or structures that come up prior to coming into force of this Act for contravening any provisions of (various laws dealing with the subject), prior permission of Administrative Secretary of the Housing and Urban Development Department, or any officer authorized by him in this behalf, shall be obtained before taking any action.”
Just as it aims to guard all the illegal constructions, many of them that have allegedly come up in league with politicians and bureaucrats, the ‘special law’ will not protect under construction or the buildings and structures which had been not completed on date of commencement of the Act.
The provisions of the Act will not also apply on buildings and structures constructed on public land, road or other public utility and also to constructions not complying with respect to safety, if any issued by the government.
On the face of it, the special legislation is planned to ward off any political upheavals during the upcoming Parliament and Assembly polls.
However, the government has ascribed reasons for bringing the special legislation, claiming that issues involving the matter are “many and highly complex.”
“The magnitude of the problem is too huge to be solved by sealing/demolition/forcible action alone,” reads ‘Statement of object and Reason’ section of the proposed Act.
As already reported by Kashmir Reader on February 20, the government has stated that it will constitute a high power committee of experts including eminent bureaucrats, planners, citizens to go into depth of the reasons for the unauthorized constructions and for suggesting remedial measures including devising mechanisms for the regulation of building activities in these cities.