Approved over one yr back, implementation of Udhampur Master Plan yet to begin

H&UDD dilly-dallying on planned expansion of towns

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, May 1: Making mockery of its own statements about planned expansion of towns, the PDP-BJP Coalition Government has failed to start implementation of Udhampur Master Plan, which was approved by the State Cabinet more than one year back. Moreover, Udhampur and Kathua Development Authorities have not come into existence despite issuance of formal orders about their constitution by the Government quite long time back.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that in order to have balanced and planned development of Udhampur town in all spheres, a process was set into motion by the Housing and Urban Development Department for preparation of Master Plan several years back.
After dilly-dallying approach, the Town Planning Organization finally prepared draft Master Plan and notified the same in terms of Section 10(1) of Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970 for inviting objections and suggestions from the general public. Thereafter, a committee was constituted for scrutinizing the objections/suggestions received from the general public, political representatives and other stake holders and furnishing recommendations to the Government in a time bound manner. However, this process also took unreasonably long time.
Finally, the State Cabinet vide Decision No.36/02/2017 dated February 13, 2017 approved the Master Plan Udhampur-2031 and on March 3, 2017 the Housing and Urban Development Department, in exercise of the powers conferred by Section 11 of J&K Development Act, 1970, notified the Master Plan mentioning that it shall come into operation with immediate effect.
However, despite lapse of over one year the implementation of Master Plan has not begun mainly because no seriousness was shown by the Housing and Urban Development Department to make functional Udhampur Development Authority, which was constituted vide SRO-317 dated July 3, 2013, sources said while disclosing that it is the sole prerogative of the Udhampur Development Authority to implement the Master Plan.
“It is because of Udhampur Development Authority remaining confined to the records only that even Zonal Plans could not be prepared till date although they are the guiding force for effective implementation of any Master Plan”, sources regretted, adding “the intensity of non-seriousness towards implementation of Master Plan can be gauged from the fact that even several senior officers of the Housing and Urban Development Department as well as district administration are unaware of constitution of Udhampur Development Authority way back in 2013”.
Similarly, Kathua Development Authority has not come into existence despite issuance of order about its constitution by the Housing and Urban Development Department in the month of September last year.
Interestingly, Minister for Housing and Urban Development Department was made Chairman of Kathua Development Authority by the Government vide SRO-407 dated September 9, 2017. “Neither Housing and Urban Development Minister nor District Development Commissioner Kathua, who as per the SRO-407 is the Member Secretary of the Authority, showed any interest in at least convening first ever meeting of the Authority”, sources said.
“Due to non-existence of this Development Authority no correspondence is being carried out with the Town Planning Organization for fast-tracking of preparation of Kathua Master Plan”, sources said. The shocking aspect is that several officers who as per SRO-407 are the members of the Kathua Development Authority are completely unaware of any such decision of the Government.
“All these aspects clearly establish that concern for the planned expansion of towns is a least priority for the Housing and Urban Development Department”, sources remarked, adding “had there been little bit seriousness at least Development Authorities could have been made functional”.
When contacted, an officer of Udhampur district administration said, “what to talk of implementation of Master Plan even this issue was not debated in the official meetings convened by the Housing and Urban Development during past one year”.
“Making Development Authority functional is imperative to initiate all those steps which will facilitate hassle free implementation of Master Plan”, he further said.
Similarly, an officer of Kathua district administration said, “neither any discussion on early preparation of Kathua Master Plan nor on making Kathua Development Authority functional has been held by the Housing and Urban Development Department during the past quite long time”.
“What sort of planned development the Government is envisaging with such a casual approach of the Housing and Urban Development Department remains a million dollar question”, sources said.