*Google maps of 10 yrs help in conduct of major exercise
JAMMU, Feb 4: Acting on the directions of Division Bench of State High Court, multi-department committee has identified nearly 800 encroachments including those committed by some Government departments on both banks of River Tawi from Nagrota to Phallian Mandal, which have considerably reduced the drainage area of the river at several spots.
In the month of August last year, the Division Bench of State High Court, in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), had issued directions for mapping of entire land along the banks of River Tawi from Nagrota to Phallian Mandal and then identification of encroachers for initiating stern action including demolition of unauthorized structures whether private or Government.
The Division Bench issued these directions after it found all the concerned Government agencies unaware of the extent of encroachments along the river despite the situation having assumed alarming proportion. Moreover, the highest court of the State had asked the Divisional Commissioner Jammu to constitute a committee to identify and map entire land along the banks of river within shortest possible time.
In compliance to these directions, the Divisional Commissioner vide Order No.601/RA/546-52 dated August 20, 2016 constituted a multi-department committee with Deputy Commissioner Jammu as its convener and Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Vice-Chairman Jammu Development Authority, Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation, Regional Director, Survey and Land Records Jammu, Divisional Forest Officer, Jammu and Assistant Commissioner Nazool Jammu as members of the committee.
The multi-department committee immediately approached National Remote Sensing Agency, Hyderabad for satellite imageries of entire area along the banks of River Tawi from Nagrota to Phallian Mandal. However, the Agency expressed inability to give imageries within shortest possible time on the ground that Indian satellites have limited frequency, official sources in Irrigation and Flood Control Department and Jammu Municipal Corporation told EXCELSIOR.
Thereafter, the multi-department committee decided to examine the Google maps of past 10 years (2006-2017) to zero-in on the encroachments on both banks of River Tawi on 30 kilometer stretch from Nagrota to Phallian Mandal. After minute examination of such maps as well as numerous field visits the committee has identified nearly 800 encroachments including some by the Government agencies like Jammu Municipal Corporation, Jammu Development Authority and Department of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control.
“These encroachments are in the shape of plinths, foundations, concrete and kacha houses and public utilities like creation grounds and graveyards etc”, sources informed, adding “due to these encroachments the drainage area of River Tawi has reduced considerably at numerous locations, which is considered as major reason behind flooding of low lying areas during rainy seasons”.
Giving further details, sources said that in Khasra No.303 and 302 of Jammu Khas a total of 550 illegal structures have been identified by the multi-department committee while as on the area of Tawi, which falls in Tehsil Bahu, encroachments on 30 kanals of land in the shape of houses and other structures have been identified.
Similarly, in Khasra No.746 of village Gole several illegal structures have been found constructed on the land of River Tawi. These illegal structures include those raised by Jammu Municipal Corporation and Jammu Development Authority. In Rakh Raipur area, illegal structures have been found on 40 kanals of Gair Mumkin Tawi. Likewise, at Sitlee near Nagrota large number of structures in the form of houses (both concrete and kacha), a school and religious structures have been identified by the multi-department committee. Similar encroachments have also been identified on other areas, which actually form part of Gair Mumkin Tawi.
“Now, the multi-department committee is all set to issue eviction notices to all these encroachers as Division Bench of the State High Court has already explicitly told the Divisional Commissioner to ensure demolition of encroachments soon after their identification”, sources said, adding “the High Court has even asked the Divisional Commissioner to ensure that all the concerned agencies perform their duties seriously so that no further encroachment takes place on the banks of River Tawi either by the private persons or the Government departments in future”.
They disclosed that Divisional Commissioner is also going to file status report before the Division Bench highlighting the encroachments identified by the multi-department committee. “The Government will have to make elaborate security arrangements so as to facilitate implementation of the DB directions regarding removal of identified encroachments”, sources said.