Lack of seriousness leads to present alarming situation
JAMMU, Aug 2: Formulated on the directions of the Supreme Court nearly six years back, a scheme for eviction of all sorts of encroachments has remained unimplemented in Jammu and Kashmir thereby leading to present alarming situation in the length and breadth of the State, which has been viewed very seriously by the Governor N N Vohra.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Supreme Court vide judgment dated January 28, 2011 passed in Civil Appeal titled Jagpal Singh Versus State of Punjab and Others had directed all the State Governments in the country to prepare schemes for eviction of encroachments on common and other categories of land.
The Supreme Court had also directed the Chief Secretaries of all the States to ensure that such a scheme provide for speedy eviction of illegal occupants and long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure in making constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularizing the illegal possession.
After discussions spread over several months, the Revenue Department formulated a scheme for eviction of encroachments in the light of judgment of the Apex Court and keeping in view the powers conferred by J&K Land Revenue Act and J&K Common Lands (Regulation) Act besides other relevant provisions of the law in force in the State.
The scheme titled as “J&K Eviction of Unauthorized Occupants (from common and other land) Scheme” was approved by the State Cabinet vide Decision No.188/23/2011 dated October 19, 2011 and the same was notified vide Government Order No. Rev/ Lit/218 dated November 28, 2011 for strict implementation by all the concerned authorities.
In the scheme, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR, it has specifically been mentioned that all the Deputy Commissioners shall be directly responsible for its implementation with the assistance of concerned agencies and are required to identify the encroachments. Similarly, all the Block Development Officers were held responsible for identifying the encroached land belonging to Panchayats and report to the Deputy Commissioner concerned forthwith for its eviction.
Moreover, the Deputy Commissioners were supposed to prepare lists of encroachments through the revenue officers within a period of three months from the notification of scheme and then start eviction of illegal occupation under the provisions of J&K Land Revenue Act and J&K Common Lands (Regulation) Act.
It was categorically mentioned in the scheme that on eviction of unauthorized occupants, the Deputy Commissioners shall handover the possession of land to concerned authority under law and make proper entry in the revenue records.
Under the scheme, the Deputy Commissioners were assigned the powers to fix monthly targets to each Tehsildar regarding eviction of illegal occupants and for prevention of such encroachments and Financial Commissioner Revenue, Divisional Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners were asked to closely monitor the process of removal of encroachments and furnish progress report to Government on quarterly basis through Financial Commissioner Revenue.
“However, the scheme has remained unimplemented till date due to absolute non-seriousness at all these levels”, sources said while attributing the present alarming situation vis-à-vis encroachments to the non-implementation of the scheme.
“Instead of initiating steps for implementation of the scheme, all the concerned authorities particularly field level officers of the Revenue Department and Block Development Officers (BDOs) allowed the encroachments to take place right under their nose for ulterior motives”, they said, adding “due to non-implementation of scheme the land mafia and other encroachers had heyday and they continued to encroach land without fear of law”.
They further said that by not implementing the scheme all the concerned authorities have adopted contemptuous attitude towards the Apex Court judgment and decision of the State Cabinet, which is the highest decision making body in the political set-up.
Interestingly, successive Revenue Ministers, Chief Secretaries, Financial Commissioners Revenue and Administrative Secretaries of the Revenue Department maintained blind eye towards non-implementation of the scheme as such indirectly facilitated encroachments to take place in the length and breadth of the State.
It is pertinent to mention here that while chairing a high level meeting few days back to have firsthand assessment of the scale and nature of land encroachments in the State, the Governor N N Vohra expressed serious concern over non-implementation of the scheme.