Formulation, implementation of Town Planning Schemes remain confined to official files only

Steering committees fail to come out with concrete action plan
*Even formal discussion not held on terms of references

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, June 2: The much-needed formulation and implementation of Town Planning Schemes in both the divisions of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir have remained confined to the official files only because of absolute non-seriousness at the level of steering committees, which have even failed to start holding deliberations on the terms of references during the past more than two months.
The Government vide order No.328-JK(GAD) dated March 28, 2022 constituted divisional level steering committees headed by Divisional Commissioners for formulation and implementation of Town Planning Schemes alongside the upcoming Ring Roads/green field and earmarked areas of the Master Plan and for drafting legislation for local area planning.
It was specifically mentioned in the order that Jammu Development Authority and Srinagar Development Authority with the support of Town Planning Organization Jammu as well as Kashmir will be the agencies for formulation of Town Planning Schemes and the steering committees can opt any member from any other department as per the requirement.
However, even after the lapse of more than two months the steering committees have not started any exercise for the reasons best known to those heading the same, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “as far as steering committee for Jammu division is concerned, only an introductory meeting was convened but thereafter no interest was shown in carrying out the required exercise”.
The steering committee for Kashmir division has taken only one decision whereby restrictions have been imposed on any sort of construction within 500 meters from the ring road, sources informed, adding “neither the steering committee for Jammu division and nor for the Kashmir division has held deliberations on the terms of references despite being aware of the fact that preparation and implementation of Town Planning Schemes is a time consuming exercise and periodic meetings are required to be held for holding deliberations”.
The steering committees are required to prepare the Town Planning Schemes for identified areas and submission of same to the Government as early as possible. Moreover, these committees have the mandate to implement approved Town Planning Schemes on ground including formulation of Special Purpose Vehicle for successful implementation.
“What to talk of looking into these important aspects even terms of references have not been prepared for hiring of the consultant, which otherwise is the foremost exercise towards giving practical shape to the decision of the Government”, sources said.
They further informed that the steering committees are also required to draft legislation for local area planning and Town Planning Scheme implementation after evaluating the different legislation related to management, development and control of land in urban areas.
Stating that steering committees cannot afford to lose time especially in view of multiple duties assigned to them, sources said that those heading the committees and are their members are also required to ensure coordination with various agencies for data collection and validation/approval of concept designs/bye-laws, besides estimation of costing and convergence of project components.
When contacted, certain members of both the steering committees admitted that no serious discussion has been held till date and said, “those heading the committees are required to convene the meetings for holding deliberations and being senior officers they cannot be asked to start focusing on the assigned task after regular intervals”.
Officials in the Town Planning Organization said that they are ready with the required information but the same can be shared and deliberated upon only when the steering committees start holding regular meetings.
The Deputy Commissioner concerned, Commissioners of Jammu and Srinagar Municipal Corporations, Chief Executive Officers of Smart Cities Ltd, Vice-Chairmen of Jammu and Srinagar Development Authorities, Special Secretary Law of Housing and Urban Development Department, Director Land Records, Chief Town Planners and some experts from outside the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory are the members of the steering committees.
“Even the experts in the field who have been nominated as members of the steering committees have not been formally contacted by the concerned authorities”, sources said.