Mafia rules the roost as settlement of land records not completed even in one tehsil

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 3: Astonishing it may sound but it is a fact that settlement of land records, which was initiated two and half decades ago for providing error free record, has not been fully completed even in one tehsil of the State till date as a result of which the land mafia is ruling the roost. Moreover, despite having enough powers to punish the non-performers, those at the helm of affairs during this period preferred to watch the situation as mute spectator.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that settlement work was initiated in Jammu and Kashmir in the year 1989 and in the year 1991 a Task Force headed by the then Financial Commissioner Revenue was constituted to carry out the settlement work in a mission mode basis. Though initially, the exercise picked up the required pace but with the passage of time the same came to a grinding halt due to the failure of those at the helm of affairs to ensure proper monitoring.
No doubt the respective Revenue Ministers during these years made official statements about giving impetus to the settlement work yet the same remained only on the papers and on ground the situation remained unchanged despite the fact that even a proper policy called “Hayadat Bandobast” was put in place containing the guidelines for completing the settlement work, sources said.
As per this policy, the Girdawars and Patwaris were required to be given the targets of settlement work and non-performers were required to be identified for action, which initially include imposition of fine and then declaration as ‘deadwood’, sources informed. However, during the past more than two decades neither the settlement work picked up the required pace nor the non-performing officials were identified for action.
“What to talk of other villages even the areas like Deli, Chowadi, Birpur, Bain Bajalta, Sidhra, Dhamwal, Muthi, Toph Sherkhania, which are situated in the winter capital and where the land mafia is ruling the roost, no focus was laid during these years to complete the settlement work”, sources regretted, adding “keeping in view numerous difficulties being faced by the people due to errors in the land records this exercise should have been completed much earlier but the same was allowed to be delayed and inferences are drawn that the non-completion of settlement work during the last 25 years was aimed at giving free hand to the land mafia to carry on their illegal activities”.
Pointing towards the non-serious approach in settlement work, sources said, “though measurement of more than 2400 villages has been completed besides preparation of Record of Rights yet there is not even one tehsil in the State where settlement work has been fully completed. This is mainly because the settlement work was taken in scattered manner and with half hearted approach”.
It is pertinent to mention here that Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, while reviewing the status of settlement and computerization of land records in a meeting in December 2013, had also expressed concern over the slow pace of settlement work.
Sources disclosed that following reorganization of Settlement Organization and establishment of Regional Directors, the settlement operation has now started picking up in several parts of the State.
In Jammu, R S Pura and Bishnah tehsils have been taken up in the pilot project and targets are being fixed for the field level officers for completion of settlement work, sources said, adding Regional Director Survey and Land Records, Jammu, R K Shavan, who is also Settlement Officer, has issued clear directions to the Tehsildars to furnish the progress of every officer/official so that action is taken against them and cases recommended to the Government for necessary action.
For the first time ever since the start of settlement operation in the State, 12 Patwaris/Girdawars, who have failed to meet the target of settlement work as per Hadayat Bandobast policy have been issued show cause notice. “As per this policy, the salary to the officers/officials is to be paid as per the quantum of work done by them and in case of failure they are liable to be fined”, sources said while disclosing that 12 Patwaris/Girdawars have been asked to explain as to why action warranted under the scheme be not initiated against them.
“Since the salary of these officials for the month of January 2014 has already been received by all of them, the Drawing and Disbursing Officers have been directed not to draw the salary  for the month of February 2014 till the reply/response to the show cause notice is considered”, sources said.
These officials are Shabir Gorse (Patwari for village Chak Lala), Vishwinder Gupta (Girdawar Chak Lala), Rajesh Kumar Rampal (Girdawar Jandheler), Subash Chander (Girdawar Ajpur), Daly Raj (Patwari Ram Garh), Mulkh Raj (Girdawar Ram Garh), Pritam Chand (Patwari Derli), Mohan Lal (Gidawar Derli), Mahesh Singh (Patwari Chak Mohd Yar), Pardeep Singh (Patwari Chak Bakhatawar), Joginder Paul (Patwari Pasgal) and Rajinder Nath (Girdawar Pasgal).