New Panel To Probe City Master Plan Violations

SRINAGAR: With Srinagar beyond redemption, the state’s political establishment has once again feigned wakefulness to the urban disasters in Jammu and Kashmir’s two capital cities, intending to bring to book “top officers and engineers” responsible for code violations.

A committee of politicians has been set up to investigate what has been wrought by cliques and syndicates enjoying high political patronage, even as a similar measure by the former urban development minister Tara Chand has already proved a non-starter.

According to reports, the chairman of the legislative council has tasked a new six-member panel headed by the chief minister’s former advisor, Devinder Singh Rana, to probe violations of the Master Plans in Srinagar and Jammu.

The committee is to submit a report, to be ostensibly tabled in the assembly, on developers, financiers, companies and government officers involved in the large-scale violations.

The chairman of the legislative council, Amrit Malhotra, is understood to have re-constituted the committee yesterday after its predecessor, set up by an order issued on October 8 last year, failed to submit its report.

Besides Rana, the new panel features MLCs Murtaza Ahmad Khan, Jugal Kishore, BR Kundal, Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, and Muhammad Ashraf Mir.

According to sources, nearly 2000 illegal constructions have been erected in the Srinagar and Jammu cities, even as residential colonies and shopping complexes have come up in violation of the Master Plans in the two capitals.

According to sources, in its investigations the committee will go after officers in city municipalities, urban local bodies and development authorities are responsible for allowing influential parties to commit such violations – in lieu of bribes.

With some recent adornments to Srinagar serving as a prime example, it is remarkable that members of the political class should find no mention as being beneficiaries.

As has been glaringly evident for long, purely residential areas have been turned into commercial zones in contravention of the J and K Control of Building Operations Act of 1988.

As an example, sources cite nearly 700 residential buildings which have been turned into commercial use in the Gandhi Nagar, Trikota Nagar and Shastri Nagar areas of the Jammu city.

Master Plan of Chaos

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