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- Illegal construction eats into farmland
Blatant violations in conversion of land for residential colonies in north Kashmir
Tribune News Service
Kupwara, August 31
The unabated conversion of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes in Kupwara, Handwara and Baramulla towns of north Kashmir is taking its toll on productivity.
Thousands of kanals of land have been converted into residential colonies in violation of Section 133 (A) of the Land Revenue Act. At many places, commercial units have been set up.
Construction work is going on rapidly on agricultural land (mostly paddy fields) on the outskirts of these towns. “If the construction work goes on at the same pace, we will soon be left with no agricultural land in the area,” said Abdul Ahad, a farmer.
Sources say bureaucrats and top businessmen in connivance with revenue department officials raise residential colonies and put the houses on sale.
“They earn handsomely from the practice as poor farmers sell their land for a song,” a source said.
The priceless land is shrinking alarmingly as residential houses are fast replacing farmland.
The shrinking of agricultural land is also taking its toll on the livestock as they suffer from insufficient fodder, with the degradation of pastures.
“The conversion of land has led to a severe shortage of fodder for the livestock. The situation will get worse if the practice is not checked soon,” said Shahzad Ahmad, another farmer.
Many believe increasing urbanisation is bound to thrive in the absence of a stringent law, preventing the use of agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes.
“The government has failed to bring a Bill in the state legislature to put a blanket ban on construction on agricultural land. In such a situation, we are destined to lose agricultural land,” said Ghulam Nabi, a farmer.
North Kashmir produces over 60 per cent of foodgrain (mainly rice) in the Valley, as over 90 per cent people are involved in the cultivation of paddy.
Kupwara Deputy Commissioner Sarmad Hafeez said: “We have taken cognizance of the matter. A meeting of revenue, municipal and other officials was held in this regard. I have given directions to the agencies concerned to book the violators. The authorities will carry out demolition wherever required.”CommentQuote0Flag
- Five years after deadline, NH 1-B still not ready
161-km stretch to connect Doda-Baderwah-Kishtwar regions of Jammu to Kashmir valley
Tribune News Service
Suhail A Shah
Anantnag, August 31
The work on the Anantnag-Sinthan-Kishtwar road, declared as National Highway 1-B, has been going on at a snail’s pace, leaving people from both sides of the Sinthan top in despair.
The all-weather road, being constructed by the Border Roads Organisation, was expected to be made functional for two-way traffic by 2006-07. But after five years of missing the first deadline, the project remains far from completion. This, 161-km-long stretch, aimed at connecting the mountainous Chenab valley region of Doda-Baderwah-Kishtwar in Jammu to the Kashmir valley, is expected to open new avenues of economic development and growth for both regions.
“The road will end our woes. Not only will it help us economically, but also address our health concerns, as it will be a lot easier to reach Srinagar for treatment,” said Adil Hussain Faridi, a lawyer from Kishtwar. Besides, the people believe that the tourist destinations along the way will get a new lease of life.
“Tourist destinations like Achabal, Kokernag, Daksum, Sinthan (Top) are some of the scenic locations that fall along the way. While the state government is mulling over identifying new tourist destinations, these places will find instant recognition on the tourism map with the completion of the road,” said Tawseef Ahmad, a travel agent.
The road is also an alternative link to the National Highway 1-A through the Baderwah-Chamba road.
Though Chief Minister Omar Abdullah inaugurated five bridges along the road in June, locals say the road is still not fit for handling traffic.
“The road is yet to be metalled at many places. The Anantnag-Kokernag stretch has not been widened despite the fact that demolitions have been carried out all along the road,” said a resident from the Kokernag area. The locals allege that they have not even been compensated for their land and demolished structures after all these years. “Neither have we been compensated nor has the road been completed,” said a local form the Brakpora area of Anantnag.CommentQuote0Flag
- Encroachments on banks of Sindh demolished: Govt
Srinagar, September 5
The state government has revealed that all illegal encroachments and constructions along the banks of the Sindh in the Sonamarg and Kangan areas of Ganderbal district have been demolished.
This has been stated by the Ganderbal Deputy Commissioner in his compliance report submitted to the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. The High Court is hearing a PIL seeking judicial intervention in checking pollution and illegal constructions along the banks of the Sindh in the area.
The Sindh, which is a rivulet, originates from Gumri Glacier ahead of Baltal, Sonamarg, in north-east Kashmir. Before merging with the Jhelum in Ganderbal, several fresh water streams join it downstream, including the Amarnath nullah, Sonamarg nullah and Shutkuri nullah, giving it a shape of a big river.
In June 2011, the High Court had directed the authorities to remove all illegal encroachments and structures along the Sindh which had come up in violation of the Kashmir Valley Embankment Act, 1992.
“A team of officers of the Revenue, Pollution Control Board, Irrigation and Flood Control, Geology and Mining, Fisheries Departments along with field staff under the supervision of the Assistant Commissioner (ACR), Revenue, Ganderbal, visited various spots (along the sindh) on August 11. A detailed inspection report was submitted by the ACR along with recommendations,” DC, Ganderbal, Showkat Ahmad Mir said in his compliance report submitted to the High Court on August 31.
The court had asked Mir in July this year to file his compliance report explaining the steps and measures taken to remove the illegal constructions.
“The team of officers also demolished illegal constructions which were raised on embankments of the Sindh,” said the Ganderbal DC in his report.
The High Court Division Bench, before which the PIL came up for hearing today, has put up the matter for consideration next week.CommentQuote0Flag
- Look for Ladakh at end of tunnel
Project to ensure round-the-year access to cold desert region
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, October 5
Finally, all-weather road connectivity with the frontier cold desert region of Ladakh is expected to see the light of day as the much awaited tunnel project across Zojila has been approved by the Central government.
The project will include two tunnels, one at Z-Morh and another in Zojila. The foundation-laying ceremony was held yesterday at Z-Morh near Sonamarg on the Srinagar-Leh highway, about 100 km from here.
This tunnel between Sonamarg and Gagangir known as Z-Morh tunnel would be two-laned and cover 6.5 km. It will have a parallel escape tunnel. The total cost of the tunnel, which is expected to be completed in August 2018, is estimated to be Rs 2,716 crore. The carriageway width of the tunnel will be 8 metres and that of the escape tunnel 3.5 metres.
The construction of another tunnel at Zojila, 22 km from the Z-Morh tunnel, will provide all-weather connectivity to the Ladakh region. The two-laned 13-km-long tunnel is likely to cost over Rs 5,500 crore.
Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways C P Joshi has said the foundation of Zojila tunnel would be laid next year.
Once the target is achieved, the Ladakh region, which remains cut off by road for more than six months in winter every year, would be accessible round the year.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has expressed confidence that the Union Government would show similar response to proposals for tunnels at Razdan Pass in Gurez and Sadhana Pass in Tangdar and on the Mughal Road to help link remote and cut-off areas.
Omar expressed hope that the construction of the Zojila tunnel would begin as early as possible and the Z-Morh tunnel would be completed within the stipulated time.
Weather-proof passage: Tunnels the way
The two tunnels will facilitate traffic movement on the 434-km long Srinagar-Leh Highway throughout the year
Ladakh remains cut off for six months of winter every year due to heavy snowfall on Zojila (at 3529 meters), located about 100 km from Srinagar
This is the only lifeline to the Ladakh region comprising two districts of Leh and Kargil, which is part of the Kashmir division for administrative purposes
LOCATION: The 6.5km Z-Morh tunnel links Gagangir with Sonmarg. It's about 90 km from Srinagar on the Srinagar-Leh Highway
PHASE-II From Z Morh to Gumri across Zojila Pass (13km). The work this tunnel will start next year
COMPLETION: By August 2018CommentQuote0Flag
- Cong minister in the dock for ‘encroaching’ on forest land
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, October 11
The Panthers Party legislator Syed Rafiq Shah today said in the House that Minister for Public Health Engineering and Irrigation Taj Mohiuddin had encroached upon forest land in Shopian district of south Kashmir.
Shah cited an inquiry by a senior revenue official which, he said, clearly mentioned that the Congress minister had encroached upon the forest land.
The state government, however, had denied that Mohiuddin was in possession of forest land in Sadev Shopian. Chairman of the State Legislative Council said he would look into the matter.
Shah submitted the reports of Shopian tehsildar and divisional forest officer (DFO), Shopian, to the chairman of the Upper House and demanded a probe by the House Committee into the allegations.
“As the minister is a powerful man, I suspect that related records might be tampered with. So I request that a House Committee of legislators should be constituted to probe into the issue,” Shah said.
Minister of Forests Mian Altaf said that as per the revenue authorities, no illegal possession of forest land by any sitting minister had been taken in Sadev forests.
“The Forest Department has been directed to re-verify the claims,” Altaf said adding that they would look into the report which was submitted by Shah before the House.
The chairman of the Legislative Council Amit Malhotra said he would examine the case.
PHE Minister Mohiuddin rubbished the allegations saying he would resign if it was proved that he had encroached upon the forest land.
“It is a conspiracy against me. I am the owner of the land and I have revenue documents that substantiate my claim. I will resign if it is proved that I have encroached upon even one marla of forest land,” Taj said.
“The case of forest land encroachment was heard by the Accountability Commission and they gave me a clean chit in 2008. The allegations have again surfaced this time and it is nothing but aimed at maligning my image,” the Congress minister said.
Mohiuddin said he would move a privilege motion against the legislator for accusing him of grabbing forest land.CommentQuote0Flag
- State to spend Rs 1,255 cr on road infrastructure
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, October 21
The state government has envisaged to spend a mammoth Rs 1,255 crore on the road infrastructure being sanctioned to the Roads and Buildings (R&B) sector under various Central government and state-sponsored schemes and district plans during 2012-13.
As per the Planning and Development Department report, of the total money allotted for the development and construction of roads, the Jammu division has been allocated a budget of Rs 754.11 crore whereas Kashmir division has been provided funds worth Rs 501.75 crore.
National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is financing various bridges in the state to the tune of Rs 273.37 crore.
Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), the Union Ministry of Rural Development has authorised funds to the tune of Rs 248.32 crore to the state for 2012-13 for road connectivity to remote villages of the state.
The state government has already released Rs 222.24 crore for the Kashmir division and Rs 225.61 crore for the Jammu division to the R&B Department for the uplift of road infrastructure.CommentQuote0Flag
- New highway to hit tourist-dependent towns
Tribune News Service
Nandini, November 15
The four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, which will end the isolation of the Kashmir valley from the rest of the country, will adversely affect the economy of several tourist-dependent townships on the existing highway.
The project has already caused a sense of insecurity among hundreds of dhaba and tea-stall owners on the existing highway.
The new highway will cut off Nagrota, Nandini, Jajjar Kotli, Udhampur, Kud, Patnitop, Batote and several other townships from the highway due to construction of 12 tunnels and 11 four-lane bypasses.
The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), which is executing the highway widening work between the two capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar, will construct 11 major four-lane bypasses. The new highway will bypass Pampore, Awantipora, Khanabal, Bijbehara, Wanpoh, Quazigund, Banihal, Ramban, Chanderkote, Udhampur and Nagrota.
“There are around 20 shops in Nandini, famous for its cheese pakora, which will be cut off from the highway. The new passage will ruin their business as the area is entirely dependent on tourists and highway travellers. Around 10,000 to 12,000 people halt on a daily basis in the area, which will soon disappear from the highway map,” regretted Ram Kumar, a tea-stall owner in Nandini, 27 km from Jammu city.
Kumar feared they would be rendered jobless as nobody would visit the area after the construction of the new road.
Sources in the NHAI said four small tunnels covering about 1.5 km were being constructed in the Nandini area to make the highway travel hassle-free keeping in view the steep ascent and sharp and narrow bends on the range.
One of the tunnels is being constructed nearly 35 metre below the existing Nandini tunnel. The highway widening project also includes two long tunnels — Chenani-Nashri (9.2 km) and Quazigund-Banihal (8.5-km) — 34 major bridges and 24 viaducts.
The entire Udhampur town will also be cut off from the highway due to construction of a major four-lane bypass while Kud and Patnitop will be the worst-affected due to construction of the country’s longest tunnel from Chenani to Nashri.
“Highway travellers will have to go without the famous “patisa” (gram flour sweet) of Kud after the completion of the tunnel. It will also adversely affect more than 300 small and big shopkeepers as their business largely depends upon people travelling on the highway. The business pf hoteliers and restaurant owners in Patnitop will also suffer,” said Rakesh Sharma, a resident of Kud.
He said the government should make a comprehensive plan to save the future of hundreds of shopkeepers.
The four-laning of Jammu-Srinagar highway, which began on May 2011, will reduce the distance between two capital cities by approximately 50 km.
The present travel time of 10 hrs will be reduced to about 5 hrs
The deadline for the project, estimated to cost Rs 10,600 crore, is 2016
The new highway will bypass Pampore, Awantipora, Khanabal, Bijbehara, Wanpoh, Quazigund, Banihal, Ramban, Chanderkote, Udhampur and NagrotaCommentQuote0Flag
- Rising up to the flat culture
Apartments in high-rise buildings are driving the realty scene in the winter capital of J&K
While the realty sector elsewhere in the country is in the grip of a slowdown, in Jammu the property prices have gone up considerably over the past couple of years. The city is emerging as a preferred destination of private developers as there is sufficient demand for housing units here. The city has good rail, road and air connectivity and is also attracting a large number of families migrating from the militancy-affected areas in the state.
The demand for multi-storey flats in Jammu has increased substantially over the past few years and a number of such societies can be seen in the city. Tribune photo Anand Sharma
Factors that are driving demand
While years of strife and fear of terrorism had severely stunted the demand for housing in the winter capital of the state for a long time, the city also did not have much influx of well-paid professionals as there was virtually no major industry or commercial activity going on here. Most of the buyers were either locals or those from the nearby areas.
“The current surge in property prices and demand for housing here is largely because of the migration of population from different parts of the state”, said a local resident.
Over the past two decades lakhs of people have made Jammu their home, and this has lead to an increase in the demand for residential units here. People from Rajouri, Poonch, Kashmir valley, Doda, Bhaderwah and Ladakh are buying property in the city.
After this large scale migration the land prices shot up and this boom attracted many big developers like Parsvnath, Ansal Housing and Royal Nest, who have all launched housing projects here.
Big developers show interest
Though Article-370 gives Jammu and Kashmir a special category status and offers non-state subjects little opportunity to invest directly in the state, major real estate developers have been investing crores of rupees in tie up with the local colonisers.
Amid all this activity in the realty sector, the trend which is gathering steam here is the one for apartments in multi-storey buildings. Investors as well as end users are preferring flats due to the secure and well-planned ambience offered by these.
A decade back housing colonies and apartments were alien concepts here and only J&K Housing Board was involved in the construction of residential flats, but now Jammu skyline is dotted with high-rise buildings. Although buyers are still conservative in their approach towards flats, the change is all evident as the cost of building independent homes has risen considerably and lack of civic facilities in the old city areas has made many families look for more planned options on the outskirts of the city. Banking institutions are also giving a major push by offering attractive loan facilities to those interested in purchasing apartments.
The price rise
A drive through Jammu, especially the outskirts, confirms that the city is fast turning into a vibrant metropolis. This has given a further boost to land prices. The price of one marla at Sidhra, Bhatindi, Sainik Colony, Bantalab, Top Serkhania that used to be around Rs 10,000 to 20,000 sometime back has now shot up to Rs 2 to 3 lakh per marla.
The price range for apartments starts from Rs 30 lakh and goes up to Rs 50 lakh. Groups like Ansals, Grace Apartments at Sainik Colony, Royal Palms by Riddhi Siddhi Group, and Parsvnath Developers Ltd were among the first companies to have invested in the area.
“Land prices in our village have shot up and there is a lot of change since the apartments have come up here. Some local developers are also now interested in retaining their land for developing planned colonies, rather than selling plots”, said Raouf Choudhary, a villager from the Bantalab area.
The price escalation of property here is bound to be steep. With infrastructural developments taking place at a good pace, the city is going to be a perfect choice for traders and corporates in days to come.
“City municipal limits have now grown from 32 sq km to 132 sq km and the population is expected to reach two million by the end of this decade. Apartment concept is the best as these societies are independent mini-towns”, said Rakesh Kumar of Koushal Infrastructure.
The government is also giving a push to this trend. The Master Plan 2021 formulated by the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) also proposes setting up of plotted colonies with focus on private developers to construct multi-storey apartments.
“J&K is an unexplored state and investment avenues in real estate here are vast. People here are more attracted to brand names and are buying flats in spite of having their own homes, which is driving the developers”, said Urja Singh, a housing consultant, who had earlier worked with Ansal Housing in Jammu. Though the completion of several projects has been delayed, the market sentiment is upbeat.
- Ring road project fails to take off
Tribune News Service
Jammu, December 16
After Chief Minister Omar Abdullah announced the prestigious project of the construction of ring roads in the twin capitals of the state almost three months ago, nothing has moved and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is still waiting for “alignment approval” from the state government.
The NHAI, the executing agency of the project, is yet to start the formulation of detailed project reports (DPRs) on the project involving an expenditure of about Rs 3,000 crore.
Official sources said no progress had been made on the project so far and even the work on DPRs for the two ring roads — one each in Jammu and Srinagar —could not be started.
On September 25, the Chief Minister had given a nod to the construction of Jammu and Srinagar ring roads to decongest traffic and cater to futuristic requirements of both the capital cities.
Omar had directed the NHAI to formulate the DPR and put up the proposals to the Roads and Buildings Department for finalisation.
RP Singh, Project Director of the NHAI, Jammu, said they were awaiting a final alignment approval from the state government to start work on the DPR.
“The DPR will be formulated only after the state government approves alignment for the ring road in Jammu which will start from Raipur near Vijaypur and meet the national highway at Akhnoor town from where it will go up to the Nagrota bypass. The road project will be about 60 km in length,” Singh said.
In Jammu, the four-lane ring road will involve an expenditure of Rs 1,355 crore. It will have four major bridges in phase-I and four similar bridges in phase-II, while a total of nine minor bridges will be constructed in two phases.
As many as 317 culverts will be constructed in two phases. There will be two flyovers in each package. Under package-I, the road length from Raipur to Akhnoor would be 43 km and in package-II, it would be 16.9 km (from Akhnoor to the Nagrota bypass).
Sources said no headway had been made in the road project for Srinagar which would start at Galandar near Pampore and meet the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway near the Narbal junction in phase-I.CommentQuote0Flag
- Exhausting agricultural land threatening food security in state
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, December 29
The economy of Jammu and Kashmir is predominantly agriculture based, where more than seventy per cent population is directly or indirectly associated with agriculture and its allied sectors. However, over the years, a disturbing trend has been witnessed, which continued to grip the state during 2012.
The conversion of prime agricultural land for construction and other commercial activities is threatening the food security here. This is particularly true in the Kashmir region, where prosperity is giving way to urbanisation.
It was this trend which was highlighted in the Economic Survey Report 2011-12 tabled by the J&K Government in the Assembly during the Budget Session in March.
The survey while pointing out the figures related to the shrinking of the agricultural land had recommended huge investments in the agriculture sector for ensuring food security in the state.
“Regardless of its importance to growth, income, food and nutritional security, the sector is witnessing a gradual slump in its contribution to the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP). The estimated percentage contribution of the agriculture sector and its allied sectors is likely to be 19.41 per cent in 2010-11 as against the corresponding share of 28.06 per cent registered in 2004-05,” the report states.
Needles to say, agriculture has held a crucial place in the economy and culture of the state, where about 75 per cent of the population resides in the rural areas and is directly or indirectly linked with this sector for livelihood.
Though the government has also expressed its concern over the diminishing agricultural holdings and the conversion of land for construction and other purposes, so far the efforts for checking this trend have failed.
In fact, several attempts were made by legislators to pass a bill but neither the PDP nor the ruling National Conference has been able to bring out a legislation in their tenures banning the conversion of agricultural land in the state. Concerns in this regard compelled the J-K High Court to direct state government on December 18 to make plans to cater to the increasing demand for residential places in Srinagar.
The double Bench of the high court, which passed the orders, observed that limited available space for residential purposes resulted in illegal activities like conversion of agriculture lands.
Nevertheless, officials of the Agriculture Department of the state hope to register a growth in the production of saffron in south Kashmir this year. Officials say in 2012, the production of the saffron has been around 10 metric tones compared to 9.5 metric tonnes last year.
The higher yield has been possible by providing better inputs and high quality seeds to saffron farmers of Kashmir. Besides, under the Centrally-sponsored ‘National Saffron Mission’, more areas are being brought under saffron cultivation in the region.
The horticulture sector of the state, which mostly includes the and the dry fruit industry, is on a path to revival with farmers taking recourse to technical aids and high density plantation.
More and more agricultural lands meant for paddy cultivation are now being brought under the cultivation.
The prime reasons for farmers shunning paddy cultivation and taking up growing and harvesting are better returns in terms of high yield and financial support to families in rural areas.CommentQuote0Flag
- Rampant encroachments, land grabbing cut green wealth to half
Tribune News Service
Srinagar, December 30
The state is losing its green sheen fast as the forest land has shrunk from 20,230 sq km to just 7,590 sq km as per data furnished by the state Department of Forests earlier this year.
The single largest reason responsible for the depletion of green cover has been attributed to illegal human encroachments, which have consumed approximately 13,360 sq km of forest land as per official statistics.
In the wake of mounting public pressure on the state Forest Department for its failure to curb the forest encroachments, the department made some significant disclosures in November regarding involvement of a senior state cabinet minister in the illegal forest land grab case in Sedow village of South Kashmir’s Shopian district, which has proved embarrassing for the state coalition government.
The State Accountability Commission even slapped a notice on the minister accusing him of making false claims of the Commission having absolved him of charges.
In the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region, the village heads (sarpanches) came out making scathing attacks on the state government for failing to catch hold of “land mafia” (forest land grabbers) and accused the department of shielding them.
Villagers said human intervention in the state’s ecologically sensitive zones for either constructing residential/commercial properties, plundering the premium wood species or its use for agricultural purposes has gone unabated over the past few years, gradually depleting the forest cover.
Despite the state government introducing its maiden State Forest Policy in 2010 to regulate the human pressures on the forest cover of the state, increasing cases of illegal encroachments by locals and even senior cabinet ministers surfaced in the year 2012, prompting the State Legislative Assembly to appoint a Departmental Standing Committee of State Legislative Council investigating into such cases.
In order to ascertain loopholes in various afforestation programmes undertaken by the state government over the past two decades, the state government even roped in Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), which has been entrusted with the responsibility of “satellite mapping” of the green cover in the state.
The first-of-its-kind ISRO Survey in the state will also enable the state to assess the density of crops, types and availability of non-timber forest produce and medicinal plants in different areas of the state besides training the Forest Department officials to prevent forest fires that cause sizeable destruction to forests during summers.
The Forest Department officials said the removal of encroached forests, illegal structures and afforestation drives were carried out in full swing with 217 acres of forest land in Jammu division alone having been cleared of encroachments and 3.97 lakh plants were planted in over 500 hectares of degraded forest land in Billawar, Kathua, Jammu, Udhampur and Ramanagar forest regions of Jammu.
Not only did humans intervene into the natural habitat of wild animals, even the wild animals did the same.
Rising cases of man-animal conflict in the Valley, particularly with leopards, and bears caused death of nearly 50 people and injured over 300, especially children and old people.
Experts have urged the state government to constitute a man-animal conflict policy that provides measures for keeping the wild animals away from the human populated areas. Even the State Legislative Assembly stepped in to impress upon the authorities in preserving the natural habitat of wild animals so that they do not attack humans.
Man-animal conflict in Kashmir, as per Chief Wildlife Warden, AK Singh, has become a political issue leading to law and order problems in the state.CommentQuote0Flag
- A new luxury project called Paradise Avenue is coming up in Jammu. There are pictures on Facebook. Look for paradise.avenue.jammuCommentQuote0Flag
- Development activities go for a toss
Only 35% funds spent under district plans in current fiscal
Tribune News Service
Jammu, February 8
Against the backdrop of government’s claim that “development itself substantiates its commitment and determination exhibited for public empowerment”, the sluggish development activities are discernible to all with the government registering an average 35 per cent capital expenditure under district plan outlays for the current financial year so far.
While just one-and-a-half month is left for the current fiscal year to end, the ruling dispensation has also failed to review plan meeting involving MLAs and MLCs who questioned the “government’s efficiency” to carry out development works in the state.
If official sources are to be believed, against total capital outlay of around Rs 1,300 crore, various districts in the state had spent just 35 per cent funds. “Though the utilisation of resources under various components of annual plan outlay for 2012-13 was same in all the three regions viz Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, the administration in various districts has not been able to record an expenditure of 30 per cent against funds allocated to the tune of Rs 240 crore under state schemes,” sources said.
The sources further said the 10 districts of Kashmir division had utilised 24-26 per cent of the capital component and nearly 46 per cent of the revenue component while the districts of Jammu division had spent only 22-24 per cent and about 44 per cent in the capital and revenue components, respectively.
Sources said Udhampur district of Jammu division has figured in the bottom of the list of less capital expenditure incurred by any district. “The situation in other districts of Jammu province is also grim under capital component, while Srinagar district has recorded lowest revenue expenditure so far,” they added.
Harsh Dev Singh, chairman, Panthers Party, and Ramnagar MLA in Udhampur district, said: “The performance of government on development front is very poor. Despite the availability of funds, various plans and schemes have not been implemented on ground. The most unfortunate part is that the government has failed to hold any review meeting to date. These meetings should have been held either in December or January. Leave aside additionalities, which are generally made to selective areas, it has failed to register satisfactory expenditure under the District Plan outlay for current fiscal.”
Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, MLA, Kulgam, and CPM leader said he was not satisfied about the expenditure made by the government under the district plan so far.
“It raises a question mark on the government’s efficiency in carrying out development activities in the state. It has become a practice in Jammu and Kashmir that the government releases funds at the fag end to show large expenditure, which is unjustified,” he said.
Chaman Lal Gupta, MLA, Jammu West, said, “Unfortunately, the government didn’t hold any review plan meeting last year and the situation is no better in the current financial year. The MLAs don’t have any idea about the expenditure and development works undertaken in their Assembly segment. Every year, they show expenditure made for various schemes and plans, but no development is visible on the ground.”
Ajay Kumar Sadhotra, Minister for Planning Department, said he held a meeting of all the District Development Commissioners (DDCs) of Jammu province to review the progress of development activities today. “I will look into the issue,” he said.
The government didn’t hold any review plan meeting last year and the situation is no better in the current financial year. The MLAs don’t have any idea about the expenditure and development works undertaken in their Assembly segment.
— Chaman Lal Gupta, MLA, Jammu WestCommentQuote0Flag
- BJP, NPP to corner govt on border fence compensation to villagers
Tribune News Service
Jammu, March 2
While the Peoples Democratic Party and the ruling National Conference (NC) are all gung-ho about dominating the Assembly proceedings on Monday by taking up Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s hanging, legislators of the BJP, National Panthers Party (NPP), Jammu State Morcha, an Independent legislator and an NC legislator have decided to raise the long-pending issue of border fence compensation to hundreds of villagers living close to the 198-km-long international border.
Compensation and rental of land in forward areas occupied by the BSF to raise a permanent fence some 20 years ago along the international border still remains a distant dream for hundreds of farmers in Kathua, Samba, RS Pura and Akhnoor.
“I have moved resolutions and questions on the issue, which is of grave concern. In almost two decades not even a single penny has been given to farmers, whose lands have been occupied for border fencing in my constituency,” said Ashwani Sharma, Jammu State Morcha (JSM) legislator from Bishnah Assembly constituency.
“Last year after I moved a resolution, the government had promised to conduct a special recruitment drive to absorb youth of border areas to enable them to eke out a living but the promise remains a hoax,” said Sharma.
“It is a human issue and we would not let it fizzle out because of Afzal Guru. Legislators from Jammu would devise a strategy to corner the government in the budget session,” he said.
Panthers Party MLA from Samba Yashpal Kundal said, “I have discussed the issue with party chairman Harsh Dev Singh and president Balwant Singh Mankotia. We would stage a sit-in and compel the government to immediately give compensation to the affected farmers,” said Kundal.
He said the government would be compelled to take the existing fence close to the Zero Line. Kundal said the gates after every half a km on the border for allowing access to agricultural fields on the other side of the fence continue to cause hardships to the people, particularly to women, who have to undergo frisking while carrying food and water for their men.
Similarly, mines planted during the Indo-Pak stand-off following Parliament attack in 2001 have not been removed completely which continue to cause casualties and injuries to villagers, he said.
Independent MLA from Kathua Charanjit Singh said the problem persisted for the villagers in his constituency also.
“We call it the international border but they (Pakistanis) don’t. Hence the scenario along the international border is same like that on the Line of Control. Therefore, reservation benefits should also be given to the people living close to the international border,” said Singh.
National Conference MLA from Vijaypur Surjit Singh Slathia, who was recently dropped from the Cabinet, said the matter had already been taken up with the administration.
“Files have been sent to the Jammu Divisional Commissioner and a decision is likely soon. Some of the villagers have got compensation but since it’s a human issue, it will be raised during the budget session,” said Slathia.
During the budget session in February, 2012, the then Revenue Minister, Raman Bhalla, on the floor of the Lower House, had promised compensation to these farmers within two months.
The BSF has embarked upon a new exercise to increase the width of the border fence to 135-feet from the existing 60-feet.CommentQuote0Flag
- Manoj bhai, can non residents of J&K buy in Jammu? I don't think we can buy in the valley of kashmir, but still wondering where can we buy in J&K ? ThanksCommentQuote0Flag