Govt to face serious problems in new Jammu Master Plan implementation

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Mar 26: Notwithstanding much hype over the preparation of revised Jammu Master Plan-2032, the Government will face serious problems in its implementation as on one side Jammu Development Authority (JDA) is still unaware of 68,000 kanals of State land transferred to it under previous Master Plans and on the other side no exercise has yet been initiated to identify the State land in 103 new villages, which are proposed to be brought under the extended jurisdiction of JDA.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that around 86,753 kanals of Government land was transferred to Jammu Development Authority under previous Master Plans and such a huge land was greatest asset which could have been utilized to change the destiny of Jammu city. Unfortunately, the land was transferred only on papers without identification or physical demarcation and formal handover.
Consequently, most of the land over the period of time has fallen prey to encroachments thus defeating the objective of planned growth of Jammu Master Plan region. The inaction in handing over the land to JDA was exclusively highlighted by EXCELSIOR and that became ground for filing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the State High Court.
Taking serious note of this, the State High Court passed directions for demarcation and identification and subsequently handing over of the same by the revenue authorities to the Jammu Development Authority in a time-bound manner. Though exercise was initiated to implement the directions of the High Court yet slackness continued to persist on the part of field functionaries of the Revenue Department.
As a result of this only 18000 kanals of State land could be demarcated and handed over to the JDA till date and JDA is still groping in dark over exact location of more than 68,000 kanals of land even at present.
Stating that Government will face serious problems in implementing even the revised Jammu Master Plan-2032 in the absence of proper demarcation and handing over of such a huge land to the JDA, sources said, “since each and every component of new Master Plan is linked with the availability of cumbersome free land, how the JDA would be able to implement the new plan in the absence of properly demarcated land remains a million dollar question”.
“Even in the revised Master Plan, which is presently in the public domain for objections and suggestions, the JDA has itself admitted that its vast stretches of land have to be identified and demarcated for planned development”, sources said, adding “the non-seriousness on this vital subject is notwithstanding the fact that substantial progress should have been made till date on demarcation of such a huge land keeping in view the involved lengthy process”.
This issue has the potential to make even the new Master Plan a big failure on the pattern of earlier Master Plans, which remained merely a sprawling improvisation of failed legacy of plan on account of host of issues.
Moreover, there would be added burden of identifying State land in 103 villages which are proposed to be transferred to the JDA under the revised Master Plan. How the authorities concerned would be able to demarcate 68,000 kanals of land along with huge chunk of land in 103 villages in a time-bound manner to facilitate implementation of new plan is also a million dollar question keeping in view the track record of handling the vital issue most casually, sources wondered while disclosing that no exercise has yet been initiated to identify State land in 103 villages in Jammu and Samba districts.
Even no step has so far been initiated to provide requisite manpower to the JDA despite the fact that its jurisdiction is going to be increased from 340 square kilometer to 652.33 square kilometer. As per the sources, JDA requires minimum of 100 personnel in Enforcement and Revenue Wings for protection of land and effective monitoring to avoid encroachments.
It is pertinent to mention here that Jammu city had its First Master Plan approved in 1978 for a plan period of 20 years from 1974-1994. The Master Plan had inherent drawbacks of time span, and its approval in 1978 created a planning vacuum of four years. On account of host of issues, the plan failed to yield the intended objectives.
The life span of the First Master Plan expired in 1994 and JDA though initiated the process of revising the Master Plan-1994 in 1989 as provided in the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act-1970 for its continuity but it unfortunately did not materialize up to 2001 creating another planning vacuum of seven years which made the growth of city virtually directionless and highly informal.
The formulation of Second Master Plan-2021, which is presently in vogue, was actually initiated in the year 1989 but it was completed around 2003 and approved in 2004 after a gap of more than a decade since initiating the process. In true sense, Jammu city enjoyed a plan holiday from 1994 to 2004 which has no parallel in the city planning. The city was either regulated on the basis of policies enunciated in the outlived Master Plan of 1974-94 or was essentially let loose to the vicious urban forces. The ramifications of such a fallacious approach towards the city have resulted into discordant and unplanned growth of Jammu.

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