Gulmarg Development Authority must act now

No one can be and should be allowed to occupy Government property without proper and valid authorisation which could be termed only as commissioning of an illegal act. The position becomes unwarranted if not deeply farcical if the authority supposed to guard, protect and regulate the proper use of such property is found either acting in collusion with or keeping its eyes shut to such violators of the use of the Government property, viz land and any property constructed on it. In the famous tourist spot of the State, Gulmarg many of those whose lease agreements and period in respect of using the land belonging to the State Government had expired, were brazenly still using it illegally and feloniously.
The State High Court has viewed seriously the conduct of the Gulmarg Development Authority in this respect and has warned action against its officials for not taking any action against those whose lease had expired and were illegally occupying Government property. However, the court granted one more opportunity to the concerned in this respect as it observed that the delay in taking suitable and proper action under rules against those whose lease agreements had expired in Gulmarg as being against the larger interests of the public.
The property in question is valued at crores of Rupees and the GDA should treat the same as public trust to be protected and safeguarded and not allow it to be virtually swindled by the occupants and thus make fortunes as a result of its commercial use. How can at the expiry of the licence or the lease, the lessee continue to occupy the same instead of either getting the lease renewed well before its expiry or vacate the occupation immediately. Such a scenario is tantamount to slipping into a situation where retrieval or recovery of the property became the redeeming position in respect of protecting the trust of the public. Not only, in such circumstances, was it imperative to get the property released and retrieved from the illegal user but penalties in the form of rent at market rate plus penal charges till the date of vacating the possession were required to be recovered from such user or users. Any outside pressures to facilitate indefinite delays or affording concessions in such a remedy were bound to encourage further violations with impunity.
The court was about to pronounce harsh orders against the functioning of the GDA in this regard but for the interventional request by the counsel appearing on behalf of the GDA persuading the court for granting one more opportunity to the GDA to apprise the court about the issue on next date of hearing. However, it was conveyed to the GDA that no lackadaisical approach was going to be tolerated and if the concerned authorities chose again to sit on the matter, they were bound to face a serious action by the court.
Government , however, has now informed that first phase of recovery of land in Gulmarg from illegal occupants would duly start from the end of this month as also would take decisions in respect of renewal of expired leases. However, the maximum permissible lease period of forty years with no relaxations of any sort was required to be strictly adhered to with usual clauses of upward adjustments in the fees/charges during the currency of the lease so as to ensure increase in Governmental revenues keeping in view the prevailing market rent pricing since leasing out of the properties are generally for commercial purposes and the Government too must mean business when it comes to earning revenues.