SRINAGAR: Governor NN Vohra on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the depleting green cover and unlawful construction in flood basins in Jammu and Kashmir. He asked the Law Department to work out modalities of a single authority-oriented legal framework for effectively dealing with unlawful constructions and land encroachments.
The Governor said this at a high-level meeting held at the civil secretariat here to review status of ‘Master Plans’ and ‘Zonal Plans’ being prepared by the Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD).
The meeting was attended by BB Vyas and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, Advisors to the Governor, BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary, KB Aggarwal, Financial Commissioner, H&UDD, and Baseer Ahmad Khan, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir. Sanjeev Verma, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, attended the meeting through video-conferencing.
Secretary Tourism, Rigzin Sampheal, Secretary Law, Abdul Majid, District Development Commissioner, Srinagar, Dr Syed Abid Rasheed; Vice-Chairman, Srinagar Development Authority; Vice-Chairman, Jammu Development Authority; Commissioner, Srinagar Municipal Corporation; Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation; Chief Town Planners of Kashmir and Jammu divisions and other concerned officers were also present at the meeting. Deputy Commissioners of Jammu, Samba, Baramulla, Budgam and Ganderbal attended the meeting through video-conferencing.
The Governor was informed that the Jammu Master Plan had been finalised and Zonal plans for 19 planning divisions were being formulated.
The Governor also reviewed the status of preparation of Master Plans for Budgam, Srinagar, Baramulla, Ganderbal and Samba districts.
The Governor called for further internal consultations and public hearings on the draft Srinagar Master Plan before it is finalised. He said that officers and officials entrusted with the job of formulating the Master Plan should explain, in public hearings, the basis of the government’s position in regard to the Master Plan.
“The aspirations and complaints of people must be harmonised and infused in the master plans. We must effectively address the concerns of different categories of stakeholders and remember that the government works to promote the welfare of people,” the Governor said.
He asked H&UDD to fix timelines and hold consultations with business chambers, transporters, prominent citizens, environmentalists, conservation specialists and other stakeholders before the Srinagar Master Plan is finalised.
The Governor also called for immediate steps to prevent illegal constructions and encroachments, particularly in vulnerable areas including green belts, flood basins, and on roads and public places, by implementing the 2013 High Court order on unlawful constructions.
“There should be zero tolerance for encroachments and illegal constructions on the State lands and Kahcharai. Wherever illegal buildings have come up, the offenders will be dealt with as per law. All the officers must go out and see what is happening on the ground,” the Governor said, while ordering weekly surveillance by concerned agencies in encroachment-prone areas, particularly around water bodies and in green belt areas.
The Governor also called for greater harmony between different agencies so that the Master Plans don’t clash with tourism plans prepared by Tourism Development Authorities.
The Governor said the multiplicity of agencies overseeing the development of Srinagar city and other areas of the state complicates the work of law enforcement agencies in differentiating between commercial and residential areas. He said a legal framework for a centralised authority being responsible for all land related issues should be explored.
The Governor asked the Chief Secretary to examine creation of posts of State Chief Architect and Chief Town Planner.
The Deputy Commissioners briefed the meeting about the progress of anti-encroachment drives launched in their respective districts.