Says officials facilitating illegal activities be taken to task
JAMMU, July 21: In the much publicized Public Interest Litigations (PILs) highlighting various issues involving the conservation and preservation of river Tawi, Division Bench of State High Court Comprising Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Sanjay Kumar Gupta today directed the Divisional Commissioner Jammu to ensure removal of illegal constructions near bed of river Tawi and complete ban on extraction of minerals.
Moreover, the DB has directed that Chief Secretary should take stern action against those officers and officials who have been facilitating illegal activities.
After hearing both the sides in length and considering the status report filed by the members of Monitoring Committee as well as the statement of Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed, Division Bench observed, “it seems there is a strong nexus between mining mafia and the authorities of Jammu Municipal Corporation, Jammu Development Authority, Geology & Mining Department as well as police authorities and the persons who are undertaking illegal construction around the bed of river Tawi despite complete ban by this court on 17.11.2016 on such activities right from Nagrota to Belicharana”.
Accordingly, Division Bench directed Divisional Commissioner Jammu to personally convene a meeting of concerned officers of Police Department, Jammu Municipal Corporation; Jammu Development Authority; Tourism Department, Housing & Urban Development Department, Geology & Mining Department, Irrigation & Flood Control Department, J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) and National Building Construction Corporation so as to ascertain whether the orders passed by this court on 29.07.2016, 17.11.2016, 28.12.2016, 06.02.2017, 17.07.2017, 25.08.2017, 25.09.2017 and 01.11.2017 have been complied with or not.
DB further directed Divisional Commissioner to make full proof arrangement so that no illegal extraction of mineral is done any more from river Tawi in terms of order dated 17.11.2016 as also no illegal construction is made around the bed of river Tawi.
Divisional Commissioner was further directed that concerned agencies be asked to make survey and forthwith remove/dismantle the illegal constructions/encroachments, whether residential or commercial, which have been made or is being made on the State land near bed of River Tawi right from Nagrota to Belicharana up to Phallain Mandal and positively file a compliance report on the next date of hearing.
Such a concern was earlier also shown by Division Bench while delivering judgment in case titled Balbir Singh Versus State & others whereby it was directed that for preserving the sanctity of river Tawi from being polluted by the waste and toxic water emanating from authorized/unauthorized colonies alongside river Tawi, stringent and effective measures be taken positively within a period of two months from the date of judgment— 12.02.2016.
DB further directed that in identifying the illegal construction, Divisional Commissioner shall take the help of members of Monitoring Committee, which has specifically stated in its latest status report that even after the ban of illegal construction, the same is being done clandestinely.
Divisional Commissioner was further directed to also identify all constructions coming and falling on either side of River Tawi, from its fringe line, either Government or individual, whether such constructions are authorized/unauthorized, and prepare a list of such constructions, so that such constructions are removed.
It was further directed that after undertaking the process of preparation of list of constructions and removal thereof, the vacant land shall be handed over to Parks and Gardens Department for beautification of river Tawi bed.
DB again directed Divisional Commissioner to produce the list on affidavit of all such constructions including removed/dismantled on the next date of hearing. “In case any officer/official of law enforcing agencies, particularly Police Department, Geology & Mining Department, Jammu Development Authority, Jammu Municipal Corporation and Irrigation & Flood Control Department is found involved in facilitating such illegal activities of construction and mineral mining, Chief Secretary shall take stern action against such officer(s) and even demote such person(s) from his/her present place of posting”, the DB said.
“The failure in complying/obeying these directions well before the next date of hearing shall amount to contempt of court and the concerned officers/officials shall accordingly be proceeded against for commission of contempt of court”, the DB made it clear.
Earlier, when the PIL came-up for hearing, Sanjeev Verma, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu; Vivek Gupta, Sr. Superintendent of Police, Jammu; Arvind Kotwal, Commissioner, Jammu Municipal Corporation; Rajesh Shavan, Vice Chairman, Jammu Development Authority; Maneesha Sareeh, Joint Director, Geology & Mining Department and Chief Engineer, Irrigation & Flood Control Department were present in person as per the earlier order.
After perusal of status report filed on behalf of National Building Construction Corporation (NBBC) with regard to underground sewerage work in the city of Jammu, the DB observed, “with effect from 14.11.2017 till now more than eight months have elapsed but nothing has been stated that how much work has been completed during this period with regard to underground sewerage work. Moreover, it has not been mentioned as to when the whole work is going to complete”.
“It has also not been indicated whether the entire city has been connected to the underground sewerage network or not and to what extent and which portions of the city have been left out, if any, as directed by this court in its order dated 14.11.2017”, the DB said, adding “it has been mentioned in the report that on the assurance of State Government for providing the balance funds from Swachh Bharat Mission and its own resources, the work of laterals has been started and the tenders of House Connections will be invited in two weeks”.
The DB directed NBBC to file fresh status report with complete and up-to-date information on next date of hearing.
The PILs have been filed by Advocate Dewakar Sharma and Ashish Sharma.