The revelation by the government in the Legislative Assembly about recovery of 925 kanals of land from encroachers along the Tawi in Jammu is good news for people, but the government has “actually” turned a blind eye to illegal colonies which have mushroomed in the past 10 years with “land sharks” on prowl to grab any open space.
Most of the colonies have been constructed without following any norms, while civic bodies, especially the Jammu Development Authority (JDA), has turned a blind eye to all these constructions. The government has claimed that the Revenue Department is compiling details of the land encroached on the banks of the Tawi, but as some politicians and bureaucrats are also involved in the “crime” the process is slow.
Illegal colonies and encroachment along the Tawi received focus after the devastating September 2014 floods, which wreaked havoc on such colonies. At several places, damage was caused after the river broke its banks, but at some places, especially at Sidhra, Gujjar Nagar and Bhagwati Nagar, damage was caused due to construction on the riverbed.
In the aftermath of floods, the government had promised to stop such activity, but blatant violation was not curbed. One can notice the innumerable newly raised concrete structures on that side of the Tawi, while the government is sleeping over the issue.
“I doubt the claims of the government. Notable encroachers are former ministers and political workers who have encroached upon land near the Nikki Tawi. We can still see big buildings being constricted on the riverbed. Why no action has been taken against them?” said Bushan Parimoo, a noted environmentalist.
Since the eruption of insurgency in the Kashmir valley and large scale migration of people, encroachment in Jammu has taken place in a planned manner with patronage of influential persons, who have created a nexus along with some corrupt revenue officials.
“Complete details of land encroached are being compiled, but since the PDP-BJP government assumed charge we have launched a sustained drive against the land mafia. It is a long-term fight, but we have achieved much success to break the nexus,” said Minister of State for PHE and Flood Control Abdul Majid Padder.
In 2013 after the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) recovered 1,721 kanals of land from encroachers in Sidhra and others parts of the city, same people with active support of senior ministers and politicians reoccupied the land. Due to political pressure, the administration has been forced to go slow in its drive to retrieve its land assets from encroachers.