Set up 3 decades back, Katra Development Authority remains victim of Govt’s apathy

H&UDD not holding periodic meeting to address concerns

No focus on much needed revision  of Master Plan

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 13: Shocking it may sound but it is a fact that Katra Development Authority, which was established more than three decades back for ensuring planned development of holy town and its peripheries, has remained the victim of Government’s apathy.
Neither the Authority has been empowered by placing adequate manpower at its disposal nor its communications on various important aspects are being taken seriously by the Housing and Urban Development Department.
As per the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970, the Government Vide SRO 579 dated September 12, 1986 constituted the Katra Development Authority so as to ensure planned and holistic development of the holy town and its surroundings.
Initially, Chief Minister was made Chairperson of the Katra Development Authority but last year vide Notification dated March 5, 2020 the Housing and Urban Development Department reconstituted the Authority and made Chief Secretary as its Chairperson.
The members of the Katra Development Authority are Financial Commissioner, Finance Department, Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Principal Secretary, Planning, Development and Monitoring Department, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Secretary Tourism Department, Additional CEO Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, District Development Commissioner Reasi, Chief Town Planner Jammu and President of Municipal Committee Katra.
“What to talk of during the previous Governments even under the present dispensation the Katra Development Authority has remained victim of non-serious approach of the senior bureaucrats”, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
They disclosed that no meeting of the Authority has been convened since March 2020 as if the Master Plan has been completely implemented and the holy town and its peripheries are not facing any sort of developmental issue.
“The intensity of Government apathy can be gauged from the fact that for the implementation of Master Plan which covers around 80 square kilometers the Government has placed four Gangmen and one Khilafwarzi Officer at the disposal of Katra Development Authority”, sources informed, adding “repeated requests regarding establishment of full-fledged enforcement wing for the authority have fallen on deaf ears in the Housing and Urban Development Department”.
Further, no serious attention is being paid towards the necessity of framing Zonal Plans without which the Master Plan cannot be implemented effectively. “Though exercise for the preparation of Zonal Plans was started in the year 2017 yet the same has not reached the logical conclusion till date because of the reasons known to those at the helm of affairs in the Housing and Urban Development Department”, sources said.
Moreover, during the past quite long time the Housing and Urban Development Department is being approached by the people for revision of Master Plan on the ground that the document has reflected majority of the area as ‘Green Zone’ as a result of which the people are facing immense difficulties in getting No Objection Certificate for developmental works.
“But their pleas are not being taken seriously for unknown reasons”, sources informed.
“How Master Plan for such a vast area can be implemented effectively through 5-6 officers only remains a million dollar question”, sources said, adding “if the Government particularly the Housing and Urban Development Department feels that there is no requirement of Katra Development Authority then it should wind it up”.
They further said, “there is no doubt that Shrine Board and Municipal Committee Katra are doing some works but the implementation of Master Plan is purely the domain of Katra Development Authority as such its importance cannot be undermined”.
It is pertinent to mention here that increase in population, expansion of activities and developing economy attracts more population from the surrounding region to the holy town.
Apart from the local residential population, the migrant population demands additional infrastructure and other civic amenities. Hence to protect the town from haphazard and disorganized development, the Master Plan is required to be implemented in letter and spirit for most appropriate future development of the town.