During the Dogra rule the State Government had acquired landed properties at various places outside the State like Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and Maharashtra. Structures were also raised on some of the properties. These properties have been entered in the revenue records of respective States as J&K State property.
The State Government has been so much engaged with its affairs all these years of independence that it did not pay full attention as to what was to be done with these properties and what utility was to be derived from them in the course of time. The State Government continued the arrangement of keeping these properties in the charge of the Department of Hospitality and Protocol as it was during the rule of the Maharaja Hari Singh. With the passage of time and non-seriousness of the State Government to care for the maintenance and security of these prestigious properties, there appeared signs of disuse and misuse by outsiders to the loss of the interests of the State. The question of status of these properties came up a number of times in both the Houses of the State Legislature but the concerned authorities in the Department of Hospitality and Protocol were unable to give a convincing answer as to what the Government actually planned to do about retrieval of illegally grabbed parts of the property or repair and reconstruction of the structures erected on them or eviction of the properties, renewal of rent agreement and related matter. Every time when the question was raised in the Legislature, the Government evaded direct answer leaving the entire case in limbo.
It is not beyond the capacity of the State Government to retrieve these properties if there is will to do so. No Government is expected to push the case to the back burner when everybody knows that the property value runs in hundreds of crores of rupees. State has an area of 114 kanals and 11.2 marlas along Rajaji Marg in New Delhi out of which 96 kanals of land is in the possession of Army and about 1 kanal and 11.2 marlas of land is occupied by the Central Public Works Department. In September last the Union Ministry of Urban Development suggested that Ministry of Defence hire office space from the open market to accommodate offices situated at Kashmir House after taking non-availability certificate from Directorate of Estates for the purpose. However, no positive development has taken place till date. Similarly, land measuring one kanal and 6.8 marlas at Chandigarh having building comprising a basement and four floors had been rented out to the Labour Bureau, Government of India. Though the matter has time and again been taken up with the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment for vacation of building but nothing positive has emerged till date. 32 kanals and 9 marlas of land situated in Amritsar, is under illegal possession of descendants of the original lessees for the past many decades. The suits filed by J&K are pending for disposal in the courts. State Government is showing no urgency and eagerness to get the case expedited. On the same way 1251 kanals and four marlas of J&K State property at Sirsa in Haryana is also left uncared to be vandalized by illegal occupants.
The question is why does the State Government adopt a lackadaisical attitude and is not serious in retrieving its property. The legislators are crying hoarse and the Government remains unmoved. This is a big loss to the State and may be one day a PIL is filed in the court asking the Government to explain its position.
The State Government should not sleep over the matter and allow illegal occupation of its prestigious property. It would be in fitness of things if the Government constitutes an advisory committee comprising a couple of members of the legislature to examine the entire case of State properties, define their status and propose the action plan of retrieving them within a stipulated time.