Govt ‘Shelves’ Anti-Encroachment Drive Despite Court Order

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Srinagar: The government has given up the drive to remove encroachments along the banks of water bodies in the Kashmir valley despite a court direction two years ago.

The J&K High Court’s division bench headed by then Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Tashi Rabstan had in October 2015 directed all deputy commissioners in Kashmir to remove encroachments along water bodies falling in their jurisdiction within four weeks.

“The Deputy Commissioners concerned are directed to remove the encroachments (along the water bodies) after following the due procedure of law and the said process is directed to be completed within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of this order,” the bench had said in its order after hearing a PIL on pollution and removal of encroachments.

Following the court directions, Irrigation and Flood Control department had started a drive to remove encroachments along the water bodies in the Kashmir Valley.

Initially, large number of tress and illegal structures were demolished across Kashmir Valley by the Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) Deptt. Also, encroachers were given a deadline to remove structures or tress that were raised or grown along the banks.

Officials in I&FC department sad that the drive was carried out for some weeks in the Valley, but stopped after some time.

The official said that the drive was left incomplete and all the encroachments were not removed along the water bodies.

The official said that the court direction was ordered in October 2015 and due to winter season, it was suspended. “Also, the unrest in 2016 could not let the department to continue the drive after winter,” he said.

Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control department Er. Hanif Mohammad Lone claimed that the anti-encroachment drive is going on.

“The drive is ongoing. It was stopped for some time. IFC dismantles the structures but the inhabitants violate the law and reconstruct and encroach again,” Er Lone said, adding, “We will start a wide drive again.”

However, locals said that the IFC has thrown the court directions to wind and are not carrying out the anti-encroachment drive in any part of the region. (KNS)

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