SRINAGAR: A senior minister in the PDP-BJP coalition government and two former ministers besides two government officials and hotels have encroached upon forest land in various parts of Jammu and Kashmir. At many places palatial hotels have been constructed on the forest land.
This information was given by Minister for Forest Choudhary Lal Singh, in reply to a question by Shakti Raj Parjhar in the Legislative Assembly today.
The reply said that an area of 26.20 kanals of forest land in compartment V-4c Sedev of Shopian forest division in south Kashmir was found to be encroached by former minister Taj Mohiuddin (Congress). Under section 48(a) of Jammu and Kashmir Forest Act, eviction notices have been served upon Mohiuddin for vacating of the encroachment.
However, he has filed an appeal in Jammu and Kashmir Special Tribunal Srinagar where the matter is under trial, the minister said in the reply.
It is in place to mention here that senior Congress leader and former minister Taj Mohiuddin was booked in a case of alleged land grab on February 3 this year, with State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) claiming that revenue records were “tampered with” and “fake records” prepared to benefit him.
Some officials of the Revenue department were also booked along with Mohiuddin, who had served as a Minister in the coalition government led by late PDP leader Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2002 and then in the government of National Conference leader Omar Abdullah in 2009.
An FIR was registered under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act and Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) in Police Station Vigilance Organisation Kashmir “against Revenue official Atiqullah Shah of Chimar Noorabad Kulgam and other officers, officials of Revenue department and the beneficiary Taj Mohiuddin, son of Khuda Baksh of Batamaloo, Srinagar,” SVO had said in a statement.
“The verification has established that the accused officers and officials of Revenue department, in order to confer undue benefit upon the beneficiary Taj Mohiuddin, have illegally made insertions, corrections and tampering in revenue records, and thus prepared fake and fictitious record,” the SVO said.
Lal Singh in his reply also said that present minister in the coalition government Abdul Gani Kohli, has constructed an educational institution in Khasra number 356 about 15 years back. A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the High Court.
Recently, the Vigilance Organisation (VO) has sought the information regarding status of the land. When the demarcation was done by the forest department, it was revealed that about 2 kanals of forest land was under encroachment of Kohli.
However, the Revenue Department had submitted its report stating that the educational institution owned by Kohli falls in state land under Khasra number 264. The matter is now sub-judice before the High Court, the reply said.
The reply said that former minister Bashir Ahmad and Farida Begum have encroached 4 kanals and 10 marlas respectively. Presently Tavneer Ahmad, Yasir Bashir, Naseer Ahmad, Sajjad Ahmad, sons of Bashir Ahmad are in possession of the 4 kanals of land. In 2008 High Court was approached and case is under trial in the court of law.
The reply said that one hotel in Gulmarg and 14 hotels in Patnitop have encroached the forest land as per the records available with government.
“The Hotel Khyber Resorts in Gulmarg has encroached approximately one Kanal of Forest Land in Compartment 39/Gul, for which legal eviction notice has been issued to concerned hotel for vacating the same and that land will be got evicted in due course of time after completing all legal formalities,” the reply said.
Six hotels in Patnitop namely Hotel Pine View, Hotel Mount Shivalik, Hotel Subash Palace, Hotel Sushant, Hotel Green Top and Hotel Forest View have encroached the forest land. The reply said that the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir has constituted a committee to report the details of buildings and structures that have violated the PDA plan and encroached forest land. The reply said that forest land encroached by eight other hotels in Patnitop has been evicted.
It is pertinent to mention that 12030.49 ha of demarcated forest land is presently under encroachment in the state.
Further, the minister in-charge of Forests, informed the house that the forest cover in Jammu and Kashmir is shrinking due to “degradation of demarcated forests caused by various biotic pressures including human beings”.