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Slack approach persists on retrieval of J&K properties in different States

Hospitality & Protocol Deptt status reports depict helplessness

*Neither bureaucrats nor politicians taking any interest
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 7: Though much concern is being expressed by both the Houses of State Legislature over continuous ‘illegal’ occupation of J&K Government owned land and other properties in different States of the country yet no success has been achieved in retrieval of the same mainly because of lack of seriousness on the part of higher echelons of State’s bureaucracy and politicians in the power. Due to this, the Hospitality and Protocol Department is left with no other option but to project its helplessness every-time when the issue comes up for discussion at various forums.
There is hardly any session of State Legislature when the issue doesn’t come up for debate but every time the Hospitality and Protocol Department paints dismal picture about retrieval of land under occupation of different agencies. The status of such land and properties projected by the department in two last Budget Sessions of State Legislature is the testimony of the same.
“This clearly establishes that the retrieval of land and other properties is not being handled with required seriousness both by the top echelons of the State’s bureaucracy and the ruling parties otherwise the Hospitality and Protocol Department would have something positive to share with the legislators on the floor of both the Houses”, said the sources, who are concerned about the fate of properties worth several crores of rupees.
“From the almost same status of such land and properties during the past several years an inference can easily be drawn that grave issue is discussed only in the Legislature albeit not with required seriousness and forgotten soon after the Session is over”, they remarked.
Quoting some examples, sources said that 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. “The matter has time and again been taken up with the Ministry of Defence for vacation of land but still nobody knows when the J&K Government will be able to take back such a huge chunk of land for its own use”, they regretted.
In the month of September last year, it was suggested by the Union Ministry of Urban Development that Ministry of Defence may 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, sources informed.
Similarly, a piece of 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, sources said.
Expressing inability to specify time-frame for vacation of building by the Labour Bureau even when the Bureau has been allotted a plot in Sector-38 Chandigarh, sources said, “unless the Labour Bureau constructs its own building there are no chances of vacation of property”.
Pointing towards 32 kanals and 9 marlas of land situated in Amritsar, sources said that J&K Government has failed to retrieve the land despite the fact that the same 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 at Amritsar and nobody knows what would be their outcome and when”, sources added.
Similar is the fate of court case relating to land measuring1251 kanals and four marlas at Sirsa in Haryana, which remains under unauthorized occupation since 1962, sources informed, adding “as far as retrieval/transfer of State land in Maharashtra is concerned the Hospitality and Protocol Department doesn’t have any proposal under consideration”.
“Had the required seriousness been shown towards retrieval of land and other properties at all these places by seeking direct intervention of the Union Government the Hospitality and Protocol Department would have not been showing helplessness”, sources said, adding “it is the high time not only for the bureaucrats but for the politicians in power in J&K to chalk out a strategy so as to retrieve the land and other properties and put the same to use for raising resources for the State”.

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