No action on HC’s directive despite lapse of over one year

In yet another testimony of scant attention towards the issues of vital importance, the Housing and Urban Development Department has failed to initiate action on the directives of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court regarding framing of a policy to deal with the issue of unauthorized colonies, which otherwise are blot on the planned development concept in both the capital cities of the State.
Official sources told  that after the issue of regularization of unauthorized colonies in Jammu and Srinagar cities figured several times in the Cabinet meetings and on the floor of the State Legislature, the Government vide Order No.1035-GAD of 2012 dated September 21, 2012 constituted a committee comprising Chief Secretary, Administrative Secretaries of Finance, Planning, Housing and Urban Development, Revenue and  Law Departments besides the Vice-Chairmen of Srinagar Development Authority and Jammu Development Authority and Managing Director Housing Board.
The mandate of the committee was to examine the issue and prepare a broader policy vis-à-vis mode and extent of regularization of unauthorized colonies within the areas under the jurisdiction of Jammu Development Authority, Srinagar Development Authority and Housing Board in twin capital cities. Thereafter, the Housing and Urban Development Department vide Order No.181 of 2013 dated May 27, 2013 constituted two sub-committee with the mandate as that of the main committee headed by Chief Secretary.
The sub-committees recommended regularization of total 22 unauthorized colonies—21 in Jammu and one in Srinagar.
In the meantime, some legislators highlighted concerns in respect of leftover areas of these colonies and finally it was decided that the survey of leftover areas would be conducted by Srinagar and Jammu Development Authorities and Municipal Corporations in consultation with the legislators as such a data was imperative to work out any policy for regularization. However, thereafter the issue was dumped by those at the helm of affairs in the Housing and Urban Development Department, official sources told .
The issue again came to the fore when a Civil Miscellaneous Application (CMA) was filed before the Division Bench of the State High Court headed by the then Chief Justice M M Kumar. While reprimanding the Housing and Urban Development Department for regularizing the colonies without following any norms, the Division Bench vide order dated December 18, 2014 issued directions for framing a comprehensive policy on regularization of unauthorized colonies and till then the concerned authorities were restrained from initiating regularization process.
The DB had observed that regularization cannot be permitted unless there is a detailed scheme with regard to reimbursement of land price to be fixed by taking into consideration various factors in respect of land underneath the illegal colonies.
“However, despite lapse of more than one year, the Housing and Urban Development Department has not initiated any step towards framing the policy as directed by the High Court. Even no serious discussion has taken place on the subject since the passing of directions by the High Court”, sources regretted.
Sources further said, “it is pity that on one side the Government is laying thrust on planned development and on the other side it has not shown any required interest in regularization of unauthorized colonies by framing a comprehensive policy”, adding “delay in regularization of these colonies is resulting into their continuous expansion in the most unplanned manner”.
Not only regularization of unauthorized colonies would ensure proper developmental activities in these areas the step will also generate revenue for the Government as indicated by the High Court in its order, sources further said.
It is pertinent to mention here that over the years, due to urbanization and influx of population towards Jammu and Srinagar cities, a large number of unauthorized colonies have come up in a haphazard manner, resulting in unplanned development of these colonies. What kind of smart cities the officials are talking about when vast area in the capital cities particularly in Jammu is growing in most unplanned manner?, sources asked.

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