SRINAGAR Can forest and kahcharie (grazing) land be utilized to construct road, Jammu and Kashmir High Court has asked the government to reveal amid claims in a petition that 8 kilometer road was laid through the land for the private benefit of four persons who have constructed summer houses in village Badi Patheri and do not normally reside there.
Hearing a petition in which issue pertains to utilization of kahcharie land (grazing and forest land) for the purposes of construction of the road, a division bench of Chie Justice Gita Mittal and Dhiraj Singh Thakur also directed the government to place on record the manner in which any proposal for construction of a road and utilization of the amount received by the State Government under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is effected.
In the plea, the petitioners have contended that the kahcharie land was illegally acquired as a road constructed over forest land. On 14 March this year, the court had called upon the government officials to show the source of the authority which enables them to utilize the kahcharie land for such purpose. The respondents also required to disclose the details of claimants with reference to their entitlement for award of compensation as also the quantum of the land acquired by them. So far as the second part of the directions made on 14.03.2018 is concerned, the same has been disclosed, the court said.
We find that in the affidavit dated 15.03.2018, respondents have however failed to disclose the claimed policy decision of the State Government allowing utilization of the land for small projects like school, the court said and directed that the details of the decision be placed on an affidavit and copy thereof be placed on record within two weeks. The order was passed on September 19.
The counsel for the petitioners stated that the house which are required to be constructed to serve the village consist of only three or four houses. Even these house owners use their properties as summer residences and do not permanently reside there.
The court also directed the concerned officials to an affidavit of the concerned Tehsildar regarding the habitation of the village Badi Patheri.
The issues in this case are of serious nature. The case is concerned with utilization of funds furnished by the Government of India under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana. The appellants (petitioners) have raised a strong objection to the utilization of these funds which, according to them has been utilized to construct a road only for the private benefit of four persons who have constructed summer houses in village Badi Patheri and do not normally reside there, the court observed.
The appellants disputed even the fact that they are regular residents of the village and contend that public funds have been misused for the purposes of constructing a road over kahcharie land. The road is alleged to be over 8 kms in length and according to the counsel for the appellants, crores of rupees have been spent thereon.
It would appear that in order to enable an effective examination of the issues raised by the appellants, the respondents should place on record the manner in which any proposal for construction of a road and utilization of the amount received by the State Government under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is effected. The respondents shall also disclose as to why the proposal as well as public interest involved in construction of such a road should not be put in public domain and opinion/objections sought from the members of the public which may be effected by the construction of such a road, specially keeping in view that the such construction is in the nature of a public project and has to sub-serve public interest and not any individual persons interest alone, the court said and ordered that a copy of its order be sent to the Chief Secretary of the State of J&K to enable him examination of the manner in which funds received by the State under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana have been or to be utilized. The report in this regard shall be placed before us within six weeks, the court said and list the case on November 19.
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