Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Encroachments of Wet Lands

Bhalla denies charges, to visit spot
Speaker to depute Assembly panel to probe encroachments of wet lands

 People’s Democratic Party (PDP) MLA and former Minister Moulvi Iftikhar Hussain Ansari today alleged that 500 kanals land worth Rs 5 crore was being encroached upon by filling wet land in his Pattan constituency and other places. He got instant support from Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, who said, he too had reports of similar nature and no action has been taken despite the fact that he spoke to Deputy Commissioners of Baramulla, Bandipora and Srinagar besides the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir.

Even though Mr Lone had asked Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla to come up with a statement in the House tomorrow, the Minister made the statement in the Assembly in second sitting today itself denying any encroachments.

The Speaker, however, said that a three member House Committee would visit the spot to assess the situation. Mr Bhalla as also Minister of State for Home Nasir Aslam Wani announced that they would be visiting the spot personally to assess the situation.

Mr Ansari raised the issue in the Assembly after the Question Hour saying the Revenue Department was charging Rs 1 lakh per kanal for filling. "About 500 kanals land was being filled in my segment, which means that Rs 5 crore have been charged by the Revenue Department

"I spoke to the Deputy Commissioner but he said it was private land. Our agriculture land, water land are evaporating. Please save Kashmir from party politics. Encroachers are looting the State. The Chief Minister should give a directive for stopping encroachments of land. If the issue was not resolved within a week, I will go on fast-unto-death’’, Mr Ansari said.

The Speaker said he too had reports of clear cut violations of all revenue and other land records. Revenue bodies have also connived even as it was a case of water bodies protection, he added and said the land was also serving as protection for flood.

"I had talked to Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, Bandipora and Srinagar and then the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir. There appeared to be some lacunas as no action was taken. It (the encroachments) was a continued process’’, Mr Lone said.

Mr Bhalla assured Mr Lone and Mr Ansari of an inquiry into the entire issue. He said the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and all concerned Deputy Commissioners would be directed for action.

The Speaker directed Mr Bhalla to seize all vehicles engaged in construction activity even if the land was Government or private and report to the House tomorrow. Title of the land shouldn’t be changed strictly, he said.

In his reply to the House during second sitting of the Assembly, Mr Bhalla said land measuring 118 kanals at village Trigam, 237 kanals in Rakh Asham and 13 kanals, 18 marlas at village Shilvat were recorded as wet land (Gair Mumkin Talab).

The Revenue field agency was deployed on spot for stopping conversion of land, if any. However, no such encroachment by way of filling was carried out on the locations. Moreover, previously filling in village Shilvat was started by some land owners, which has already been stopped. At present no such encroachment on wet land was reported in Tehsil Sonawari, district Bandipora, Mr Bhalla said.

He said the DC Baramulla has reported that Reyaz Ahmad Bhat and others had approached the office of the DC with an application for allowing them for improvement of their land making it cultivable by way of earth filling as they intended to convert Banjar land into orchard by earth filling.

"A report in the matter has been obtained from Tehsildar Pattan, who reiterated that the land under reference was barren—Banjar Qadeem and was not agricultural. Besides, it remained filled with water supporting the growth of ‘Pechi’. The application under reference was forwarded to Tehsildar Pattan for taking necessary action under Land Revenue Act subject to the condition that Section 133 of the Land Revenue was not violated and to ensure that the matter was not sub-judice before court of law’’, the Revenue Minister said.

He added that the applicants had sort the permission on the basis of an order issued by the Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar pursuant to the order issued by the division bench of the High Court in similar cases falling at village Rambirbagh adjacent to the land under reference.

"The MLA Pattan (Mr Ansari) has already been apprised about the facts when he had expressed his resentment on this issue. It is worthwhile to mention here that the Court of J&K had restrained the office of Deputy Commissioner for taking any further action in the matter by virtue of order dated 19-9-2011 in the case Reyaz Ahmad v/s State and others.

"As per the report of Tehsildar South, Srinagar, no encroachment by way of filling is going on in Halqa Panzinara, which was adjacent to Pattan and Sonawari. However, a road was under construction from Mirgund to Trigam under MGNREGA scheme, where filling was going on’’, Mr Bhalla said.

He added that explicit instructions have been issued to the Deputy Commissioners to restrain the people in general and miscreants in particular from violation of provisions of Section 133 of Land Revenue Act.

After Mr Bhalla’s statement, the Speaker decided to constitute a 3 member committee, which would inspect the places in Pattan constituency where some persons were allegedly filling wet lands, thereby posing a threat to ecology and environment.

Mr Ansari contested the statement of Mr Bhalla saying that the report given by the Revenue officers was not based on facts. He suggested that a committee of members should be deputed to assess situation on spot and stop filling of wet lands in the area.

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