Planned development in Patnitop

Patnitop, agreeably a tourist spot, nearer to Jammu where tourists can get the feeling of being as if in Gulmarg, is tormented by encroachments and illegal constructions. It has unfortunately reached a level where solutions seem difficult, if not impossible. It is the wont of the State administration to remain ineffective in the initial stages of a problem and when the water starts overflowing the heads, panic button is pressed. To put it in plain words, despite serious concern shown by the State High Court over the scourge of ruthless unplanned and unauthorised expansion of the concrete structures over the area of Patnitop, the Government is finding it quite trying to proceed with and ensure a planned development of this tourist area.
Not only the core area of the tourist spot but its adjoining areas as well due to enormity of encroachments and illegal structures constructed, pose an uphill task for ensuring a planned development due to which lot of time gets squandered in finalization of New Master Plan for the concerned area. It is not only astonishing but a cause of concern too that Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) Hyderabad which was supposed to prepare the Plan has been bolting and ducking over the issue for the last seven years.
It is equally interesting that the Government did not take pains to monitor the progress with the CEPT to know the causes of such an inordinate delay nor did it think it feasible to make alternate arrangement and instead allowed things to reach a pass of irretrievable proportions. It is worth noting that the process to prepare a new Master Plan for the area was started in mid 2011 following which an agreement was signed between Patnitop Development Authority and Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology Hyderabad.
What later happened to the draft of the Master Plan after several years’ of exercise and putting the same open in public domain for eliciting suggestions or objections last year is not known excepting a few objections regarding incorporation of incorrect Revenue record numbers of the land proposed to be put to use for different activities. No one, thereafter, took any interest to get corrections made speedily by asking the Revenue Authorities to submit the fresh, correct and authentic data to have it incorporated in the revised Draft Master Plan.
A seesaw like situation continued between the CEPT, putting the Plan in public domain, the Revenue Authorities and the Patnitop Development Authority but anyhow, the matter was managed to be dragged up to the doorsteps of the CEPT to give the final touches to the Master Plan . Here, an interesting thing worth noting is that while in most of the cases of developmental projects in Jammu and Kashmir, the shortage or delayed funds flow or releasing of payments quite late, become the cause of majority of the projects suffering and not touching the timeline. In the instant case, the issue is in a State of absolute inertia even though 80 percent of the payment as cost of preparing the Master plan, is already paid to the CEPT.
Whether legal action or any other punitive action is contemplated to be taken against the CEPT, the fact is that had the PDA and higher authorities in the State Government been serious from the start, the position would have been better and quite encouraging. Still, a well coordinated resolution of the problem cannot be discounted and efforts must be taken to protect, preserve and sustain the tourist resort, at the outset, by waging a war against illegal and haphazard constructions and encroachments.