Custodians cannot be abusers

Should a Government employee supposed to be committed by all means to be loyal, faithful and honest about his duties for which he or she is paid from the public exchequer being the ”cost” of rendering such duties, afford to do acts prejudicial to the interests of the Government and as such the public ? Should such an employee continue to be in service both under the law of the land and on moral and ethical grounds ? Can a situation be visualised where instead of putting in one’s best as a public servant, to check and stop encroachment of forest land or any property belonging to the Government ( say the public property) in fact , be facilitating and ”assisting” the encroachers in such illegal acts ? Is the UT administration aware of this type of a modus operandi functioning with impunity for years together ? Division Bench of High Court has observed that authorities of the Forest and Revenue Departments were assisting the encroachers in perpetuating their illegal acts on the public property.
Any administration worth the name, must be having its own intelligence inputs coming in with regard to such authorisation of public loot and if it is so, why stringent action has eluded the system all the years such illegal acts had been going on unabatedly. If not, how can the administration claim that it had its eyes and ears ”open”, to safeguard public property. Some public servants are unfortunately nursing perverted notions that once in Government service meant open licence to act not always as per rules and very often , deal with things around, as if they were masters and owners of the departments they worked in . A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed with the High Court titled Save Animals , Value Environment (SAVE) versus J&K and Others. In this connection, the Division Bench has viewed the position seriously and passed strictures against the Government , in particular against the two UT Departments of Forest and Revenue and, as such, directed the Chief Secretary to immediately appoint a committee to look into the complaints of encroachments on the forest land . The Divisional Bench has termed the entire matter ”shrouded in secrecy and concealment” which denotes the extent and the quantum of encroaching “national wealth of forests”.
If the spree of such encroachments was not contained effectively , forest cover not only would get shrunk to abysmally alarming levels but would be causing irreversible damage to ”sensitive ecology and fragile environment ” in the Union Territory. Revenue Department, needless to add, otherwise is clamouring for a revamp as under one pretext or under some other alibi, complaints of manipulations with regard to demarcation, identification and measuring the land are routine affairs and in the instant case , the issue of not demarcating the land has not led to identification of the extent of encroachments nor identification of particulars of encroachers. It is worth noting that despite the orders of the Court having been passed six months back, particulars asked for have not been submitted before the court. The court also took a serious note of the fact that no action against the encroachers has so far been taken.
Since the matter is pending right from the year 2017, the Division Bench has observed the delay on the part of the Forest and Revenue Departments suggesting attempts to assist the encroachers in perpetuating such illegal acts. We feel, such strictures are enough for the UT administration to take stock of the functioning of the concerned departments and clarify as to why such a long rope has been given which makes it easy for those employees with doubtful integrity , to facilitate and help in encroaching public property . We trust the Committee , whenever constituted in the very near future as per the directives of the High Court, would go into the entire gamut of complaints and proceed with such actions which could remove the encroachments and expose the encroachers along with their connivers in the twin UT departments so as to get suitably punished.