Srinagar: The J&K High Court has directed state authorities not to register 107 illegal structures till August 6, the next date of hearing.
In a fresh litigation filed on “illegal constructions” by J&K People’s Forum through its counsel, Shafkat Nazir, the division bench of acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice M K Hanjura gave four weeks to the state authorities to respond on the issue and take requisite steps within one week.
Advocate Nazir submitted before court that the petitioner organisation in particular and the public at large are at a loss to understand how the state machinery, including authorities in the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, the Lakes and Water Ways Development Authority (LAWDA), the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and even in the Cantonment Board have shut their eyes and facilitated 107 persons to either encroach upon state land or to construct structures thereon without any kind of building permission, proof of land ownership and no-objection certificate.
“It is also a matter of surprise that almost all such constructions are located in the areas around river Jehlum and in the areas within the jurisdiction of LAWDA declared as no construction zones. This clearly indicates that the authorities under Municipal Corporation and LAWDA are hand in glove with the violators and encroachers and facilitated such constructions. After completion of illegal constructions, the applicants are now seeking registration of such illegal structures as hotels and guest houses,” said Advocate Shafkat.
He also pointed to a communication letter by stating before court that Additional Secretary to the Government, Tourism Department, Kashmir, has written a communication to the Director, Tourism Department, Kashmir, dated 4 August, 2017, to categorize 107 cases of illegal construction for registration and to permit them to fulfil documents and to ensure that the registration process is completed by the end of August.
The court after hearing the counsel directed the concerned authorities not to register the 107 illegal constructions till next date of hearing.
The litigation states that the grievance of the petitioner organisation is that 107 structures have been illegally constructed in Srinagar city mostly within the jurisdiction of the SMC and others falling within the LAWDA limits.
“As per documents collected by the petitioner organizations, almost all these structures have been raised without any building permissions and land ownership certificates. The violators now seek registration of these structures as hotels and guest houses. Respondent’s state, in violation of norms prescribed under SRO 198 and subsequent Government order issued under J&K Tourist Trade Act as amended in 2011, is bent upon granting registration to these violators. The matter is of public interest as all these structures have come up in no-construction zones in and around river Jehlum and in Nishat area. Moreover, most of the structures have come up on State land by encroachment,” states the petition.
The petition further states that the respondents one and all are jointly and severely responsible for abdicating their official/social and moral responsibility in not protecting State land by allowing encroachers to step in and not acting against illegal constructions. Not only is the legal position clear on the subject, but they also appear to have taken the court for a ride.