STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice M.M Kumar and Justice Tashi Rabstan while taking up PILs regarding encroachments along Tawi river bed, directed the State to ensure that no encroachments takes place and if any the same should be removed.
This directions came up in two Public Interest Litigation filed by Jammu Consumer Council and Advocate Deewakar Sharma and Raman Sharma as founder member of ‘Save My Tawi’ campaign regarding encroachments on river bed and river bunds and construction on it,
In pursuance to order dated 23rd September, 2014 passed by this Court, a status report on behalf of the Forest Department has been filed highlighting the steps taken for removing encroachment alongside the river.
According to the status report filed by Divisional Forest Officer, Jammu Forest Division Dr. V.S. Senthil Kumar, encroachment from 7,582 Kanals 18 Marlas has been removed. It has also been stated that the wire fencing has been installed in some part but the work is still in progress.
State counsel has pointed out that the operation for removing the encroachment is still in progress in Jammu Division as well as in other areas. There may be some land which falls within the jurisdiction of Jammu Development Authority.
The Bench observed there is ample power with the State Government to issue direction to Jammu Development Authority (JDA) so as to enforce the law by removing the encroachment. If such a necessity arises then the State Government may issue appropriate direction to JDA which in the first instance is suppose to act on its own. With these directions Division Bench adjourned the matter.
In another PIL filed by Save My Tawi Campaign, Division Bench observed that some issues have been raised. One of the important issues pertains to the land reclaimed alongside the river which falls within the local limits of Jammu.
The State Government has entrusted the land to JDA to develop the same. However, JDA has carved out a park and has named it as ‘Maharaja Hari Singh Park’ on the 37 Kanals by developing lawns, pathway and joggers’ park.
A commercial site of 8 Kanals for hotels has also been carved out the same.
Senior Advocate Sunil Sethi, counsel for the petitioner has pointed out that the stand of the respondents in the objections is incorrect because the total area of land allocated to ‘Maharaja Hari Singh Park’ is much lesser than it is projected. In that regard, a request has been made that a Court Commissioner may be appointed to inspect the site. The Bench requested Advocate S. S. Ahmed to act as Court Commissioner and file a report.
It also asked the Court Commissioner to examine the safety factor and distance of the hotel site from the river before any construction be permitted. In the meantime, no steps are taken to auction the proposed site for the construction of hotels for which tender notice has been issued on 3th July, 2013, the Bench observed.
In another PIL regarding the presence of butcheries along the river banks, the Bench observed that they have added to the pollution and hurt the religious sentiments of a large section of the society. Counsel for the respondent pointed out that some thinking is in progress to include rivers under the National River Conservation Plan which is a centrally sponsored scheme to keep them clean and pollution free.
The Bench observed then the proceedings with regard to including the rivers of State under the plan is filed before the next date of hearing. JNF
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