Div com personally responsible if farm land used for other purposes: HC

SRINAGAR: The divisional commissioner of Kashmir will have to personally ensure that agriculture land in the Valley is not used for other purposes and also make sure that the kahcharie (pasture) land is freed of encroachments, the high court ordered on Thursday.
The court’s ruling, passed by a bench of justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey, came after a number of lawyers submitted that constructions on agriculture land are happening under the nose of authorities in violation of court orders.
“Divisional commissioner Kashmir shall be personally responsible for implementing the court orders issued from time to time,” the court said and asked its registry to direct the divisional commissioner to file the compliance report on September 24.
Time and again, the court has directed all deputy commissioners to “faithfully” follow statutory provisions and its directions on conversion of agriculture land and file a fresh status report.
The court has already passed slew of directions for implementing the Land Revenue Act, Agrarian Reforms Act, J&K Alienation of the Land Act and other applicable Acts.
The Acts, as observed by the court, empower revenue authorities to stop the conversion of the land for other uses such as construction of houses, etc., and take action against the violators.
The court was hearing a Public Interest Litigation—Human Watch (Regd) International Vs State & others, seeking impletion of the laws to prevent the conversion of the agriculture land for any purpose other than it is meant to be in the Valley.
The court has already directed Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, to file a comprehensive report about the removal of illegal encroachments and unauthorized occupation of the Kahcharie land in all districts.
In another direction, the court directed commissioner secretary (housing and urban development department) to file a fresh status report on the steps taken for the completion of Srinagar Master Plan.
To address the increasing demand for residential space in Srinagar, the government has already extended the area from 416 to 757 square kilometers in the revised Master Plan.
Meanwhile, the court ordered that its interim directions shall continue till the next date of hearing in the PIL and that the official respondents, wherever required, shall file compliance reports.