Srinagar, Aug 01: Expressing serious concern over the depleting green cover, unlawful constructions in the flood basins and rampant change of land-use in Jammu and Kashmir, Governor N N Vohra Wednesday asked the Law Department to work out modalities of a single authority-oriented legal framework for effectively dealing with unlawful constructions and land encroachments in the State.
Governor made these remarks while chairing a high-level meeting at Civil Secretariat here to review the status of ‘Master Plans’ and ‘Zonal Plans’ which are being prepared by Housing and Urban Development Department (H&UDD) for the twin capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu and other major towns of the State.
Governor was informed that the Jammu Master Plan has been finalized and zonal plans for 19 planning divisions are being formulated.
Governor also reviewed the status of preparation of Master Plans for Budgam, Srinagar, Baramulla, Ganderbal and Samba districts.
Governor called for further internal consultations and public hearings on the draft Srinagar Master Plan before it is finalized. He said the 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 which should be a futuristic document keeping in view the environmental sensitivities, rapidly increasing housing and other infrastructure requirements, growing population etc.
“The aspirations and complaints of people must be harmonized 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,” Governor observed.
He asked the 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 finalized.
Governor also called for immediate steps to prevent illegal constructions and encroachments, particularly in vulnerable areas including green belts, flood basins, and on the roads and public places, by implementing the 2013 High Court order on unlawful constructions. He asked the law enforcement agencies to ensure that no building permission violations and encroachments take place anywhere in the State.
“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,” Governor observed, while ordering weekly surveillance by concerned agencies in encroachment-prone areas, particularly around the water bodies and in the green belt areas.
Governor said the new Master Plans for different areas of the State should address concerns of and incorporate solutions for addressing the issues of depleting green cover and rampant and unplanned urbanization. He also called for greater harmony between different agencies so that the Master Plans don’t clash with tourism master plans prepared by Tourism Development Authorities.
Governor said the multiplicity of agencies overseeing the development of Srinagar city and other areas of the state complicates the work of the law enforcement agencies in differentiating between commercial and residential areas, and the legal framework for a centralized authority being responsible for all land related issues should be explored. He said that the Srinagar Development Authority and Srinagar Municipal Corporation should use their powers to act stringently against the violators.
Governor asked Chief Secretary to examine the creation of posts of state Chief Architect and Chief Town Planner for synchronizing the expansion and future outlook of the environmentally-fragile state of J&K.
The Deputy Commissioners briefed the meeting about the progress of anti-encroachment drives launched in their respective districts.
The meeting was attended by B B Vyas and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, Advisors to the Governor, BVR Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary, KB Aggarwal, Financial Commissioner, Housing & Urban Development 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.
Omar says Kashmiris ‘suspicious’ of new faces
Srinagar, Jul 22: National Conference vice-president and former J&K Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Monday advocated for “participatory democracy” in J&K while claiming that people of J&K are suspicious of “new faces and new alliances.”
Omar was reacting to a news article published by The Hindu on Sunday.
The article ‘Centre’s Jammu and Kashmir playbook goes down to the grassroots’ concluded that the Centre wanted “to move away from the set pieces and put in place different actors on the political chessboard, actors who would be not only new but also devise new moves.”
Reacting to it, Omar tweeted: “New Delhi ‘wants to put different actors on the political chessboard’. This is why people in the valley are deeply suspicious of the new faces & new alliances being foisted on them. Why are voters in Kashmir not trusted to know what is good for them?”
“There are a lot of systemic problems in J&K. Participatory democracy & empowered institutions will contribute to solutions being found. The key word here being PARTICIPATORY,” he tweeted.
Omar, like most of his political counterparts in the state, has been demanding conduct of Assembly polls in the J&K, which is under President’ Rule since December last year following six months of Governor’s Rule since June 2018.
Referring to the article, Omar wrote: “Of course Panchayats & Urban Local Bodies have to be empowered but why do these pieces ignore the reality that many seats in the valley are vacant, the ones that were filled either won unopposed or with a negligible participation of voters.”
JK Bank probe: ACB raids IFFCO TOKIO
Srinagar, Jul 22: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Mondayraided the Srinagar office of IFFCO TOKIO, the insurance company J&K Bank had partnered with earlier this year.
The company, ACB claimed, had secured undue benefits after employing a close relative of former chairman J&K Bank Parvez Ahmed Nengroo, who was removed by the government on the charges of ‘misgovernance’ last month.
Giving details, a spokesperson of the Bureau said that a source report received by ACB revealed that an insurance deal in violation of norms was made by J&K Bank with IFFCO TOKIO in which close relative of Parvez was employed resulting into undue benefits to the company.
“By resorting to the acts of favoritism and abuse of official position as Chairman J&K Bank in connivance with MD IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company, his (Parvez’s) relative Asif Manzoor Beigh was appointed in the said insurance company against annual salary package of Rs 19,28,886 which is approximately 2.5 times higher than that of the package given by Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company where the accused beneficiary was functioning as deputy manager,” said the ACB spokesperson.
The accused beneficiary, as per ACB, is currently serving as Chief Manager in IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Srinagar office.
“In order to affect search of the office premises of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company located at Chinar Complex Residency Road Srinagar Kashmir, a warrant was procured from the competent court of law. The search was conducted to seize incriminatory evidence related to the commission of the offence by the officers/officials of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Ltd,” the spokesperson added.
A verification conducted into the matter, as per the spokesperson, revealed that J&K Bank had already entered into venture with PNB Metflife Insurance company for sale of its insurance products in the year 2000, followed by similar nature of venture with Bajaj Allianz Insurance Company for sale and distribution of its non-life insurance products including health product in the year 2002.
The initial ACB probe revealed that in the first quarter of 2018-19 (April to June 2018), J&K Bank received Rs 159 lakh as commission from Bajaj Allianz, whereas the commission received from IFFCO TOKIO General insurance Company Ltd for the first quarter of 2019-20 is to the tune of Rs 88 lakh only.
“It is less by Rs 71 lakh, thereby a loss in the form of commission to J&K Bank Ltd has been caused,” said the ACB spokesperson.
He added: “The aforementioned omissions and commissions on the part of Parvez Ahmed Nengroo, the then Chairman J&K Bank Ltd in furtherance of conspiracy hatched with Officer/officials of IFFCO TOKIO General Insurance Company Ltd while executing an insurance deal with the said company in order to secure appointment of his close relative Asif Manzoor Beigh in the said company and others at the cost of J&K Bank resources constitute criminal misconduct under J&K P C Act 2006 and thus disclose commission of offences punishable U/S 5(1) (d) read with 5(2) J&K Prevention of Corruption Act and section 120B of the RPC. Case FIR No 14/2019 stands registered in PS ACB Srinagar into the matter and investigation is going on.”
Plea against pellet guns: Decide in 6 weeks: SC to JKHC
New Delhi, Jul 22: The Supreme Court asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday to decide within six weeks the plea seeking ban on the use of pellet guns for controlling street protests in the state.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi took note of a letter dated July 4 by the Registrar General of the High Court that the matter is listed for hearing on Tuesday before a division bench.
The PIL on the issue was filed before the high court in 2016 by Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association seeking stay on use of pellet guns as a large number of people had been killed or injured due to its use.
Taking on record the letter of the Registrar of the High Court, the bench, also comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Aniruddha Bose, said: “We request the Division Bench of the High Court to expeditiously decide the matter and pass order preferably within six weeks.”
The lawyers association had approached the apex court with an appeal against the interim order of the High Court which on September 22 rejected the plea seeking a ban on use of pellet guns on the ground that the Centre had already constituted a Committee of Experts through its Memorandum dated July 26, 2016 for exploring alternatives to pellet guns.
The apex court on January 18, 2018 had said it would wait for the outcome of the petition pending before the High Court.
In the apex court, the High Court Bar Association challenged the order, contending that High Court should waited or called for the report of the expert committee.
The High Court had also declined to accept the plea to prosecute the officers who ordered use of pellet guns and those who actually fired them.
When the matter came up for hearing on December 14, 2016, the Supreme Court had observed that pellet guns should not be used “indiscriminately” for controlling street protests in Jammu and Kashmir and be resorted to only after “proper application of mind” by the authorities.