Div Coms, DCs soft-paddling on furnishing ATRs despite more than dozen reminders

Removal of encroachments from State/common land
No focus even on checking illegal conversion of agri land

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, July 26: The Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu and majority of the Deputy Commissioners have been soft-paddling on furnishing Action Taken Reports (ATRs) on the directions of the Governor regarding removal of encroachments from State/common land in the length and breadth of Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, no serious attention is being paid towards checking authorized conversion of agriculture land, the issue which was seriously debated upon even in the meeting of Committee of Secretaries chaired by the Chief Secretary.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that following directions from the Governor about launch of large scale drive against encroachments on State/common land, the Revenue Department in the Civil Secretariat vide Communication No/ Rev/ S/ 321/ 2018 dated July 21, 2018 followed by letter dated August 16, 2018 addressed to the Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu laid thrust on launching vigorous drive against encroachments on State/common land.
Thereafter, the Revenue Department vide communication dated September 18, 2018 conveyed to the Divisional Commissioners that despite lapse of considerable time, the requisite Action Taken Reports were awaited and sought necessary information without further loss of time.
On January 10, 2019, the Revenue Department further drew the attention of the Divisional Commissioners towards the issue of removal of encroachments as well as unauthorized conversion of agricultural land particularly alongside the National Highway and other intensive paddy growing areas/fields.
“Despite various reminders, details regarding the encroachments made on both sides of National Highway particularly from Nagrota to Kathua, Jammu to Udhampur, Jammu to Akhnoor and Srinagar to Qazigund and the action taken in removal of encroachments during last six months are still awaited”, read the communication dated January 10, 2019, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR.
Through this communication thrust was also laid on furnishing of information regarding land converted from agricultural to non-agricultural purposes illegally and without permission of the competent authority and the action taken against the persons involved in the same as required in terms of Section 133 of the Land Revenue Act and Section 13 of the Agrarian Reforms Act.
The Divisional Commissioners were further asked to furnish information about the action taken in the recent instances of constructions for commercial purposes in and around Jammu and Srinagar cities in blatant violation of various land laws in force.
Though the Divisional Commissioners were required to furnish all these details within a period of two weeks from January 10, 2019 yet they continue to ignore the communications of the Revenue Department and this is evident from letters dated March 14, 2019, March 19, 2019, April 5, 2019, May 16, 2019, May 28, 2019, June 18, 2019 and July 17, 2019 respectively, the copies of which are available with EXCELSIOR.
“The non-serious approach towards the vital issue is notwithstanding the fact that the Chief Secretary while chairing Committee of Secretaries meeting on March 25, 2019 had directed that the Revenue and Forest Departments shall plan an anti-encroachment drive in a systematic manner in coordination with the divisional and district administration and undertake it after April 20, 2019 positively”, sources said.
The Chief Secretary had observed that wherever the quantum of retrieved land is found to be sufficiently large, the same may be proposed for utilization for public purposes, sources said, adding “it is a matter of serious concern that neither follow-up action on the directions of the Chief Secretary has been taken nor Action Taken Report furnished to the Revenue Department on fortnightly basis”.
Through the latest communication the Revenue Department has also sought Action Taken Report even on the decisions taken in the meeting convened under the chairmanship of Dr Pawan Kotwal, Financial Commissioner Revenue, who too has laid thrust on removal of encroachments on State/Kahcharai land on war footing basis.
“No doubt, anti-encroachment drives have been carried out in several areas of the State but picture about exact quantum of retrieved land and pending encroachments can be drawn only after periodical Action Taken Reports are submitted to the Revenue Department as per the decision taken by the Governor last year”, sources said.
“Moreover, level of seriousness on the part of the Deputy Commissioners in removal of encroachments can be assessed only through the fortnightly Action Taken Reports”, sources said.