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Legislature clears bill to give cover to illegal buildings in J&K

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 22:56

Jammu: Going against the directives of Supreme Court and J&K High Court, the state government on Wednesday went ahead to give temporary legal cover to illegal buildings and structures through the passage of a bill in the legislature.

The Legislative Council today passed a Bill to make certain temporary provisions for the local areas of Jammu, Katra and Srinagar (LA Bill No.5 of 2014) which was sent to it by the state Assembly.

The bill was moved by Minister for Urban Development and Urban Local Bodies, Nawang Rigzin Jora.
The Assembly had last evening passed the controversial bill to put a moratorium on the demolition of illegal structures which have come up in Srinagar, Jammu and Katra in violation of master plans.

The law would provide legal cover to the illegal constructions till March 15.

Jora defended the bill which sets aside high court orders directing the sealing and demolition of illegal buildings. The state government had moved Supreme Court for a stay on the high court order, but the apex court rejected the plea and upheld the HC order.
Under the Act - J-K Civic Laws (Special Provision) Act, 2014 - which has to receive the governor`s assent, the government would task a high-powered committee to prepare a roadmap for regularising unauthorised structures, both residential and commercial, against the payment of a penalty.

"All notices issued by local authorities for initiating action against unauthorised constructions shall be deemed to have been suspended until March 31, 2015, or until a policy is formulated by the government, whichever is earlier,", the bill said.

J&K government said that the "issues involved were many
and highly complex" and the magnitude of the problem was "too huge" to be solved through sealing, demolition and forcible action alone, although it did admit that a large number of residential and commercial buildings had come up illegally in violation of master plans.

Last September, upon directions from high court, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) had sealed dozens of illegal structures, mostly commercial, in the posh areas of the city.

The court directions had put the government, particularly the ruling National Conference, which holds all eight Assembly constituencies in Srinagar, in a fix as it feared the demolition drive could backfire with Lok Sabha and Assembly elections around the corner.

"A large number of families will get affected by the demolition drive," Jora said. "It (the law) is not aimed at saving big and influential persons. It is a class-neutral Act."

It would also recommend policy and norms for regulating construction activities and recommend measures to prevent recurrence of such violations. The panel would submit its report to the government in six months.

Most of the legislators first opposed the bill but later ensured its passage.

Among the Members who spoke on the bill in the Legislative Council today were Sheikh Ghulam Rasool, GN Monga, Mohd Ashraf Mir, BR Kundal, Syed Rafiq Ahmad Shah, Syed Naeem Akhtar, Naresh Kumar Gupta, Khalid Najeeb Suherwardy, Jahangir Hussain Mir, Dr BA Veeri, Jugal Kishore Sharma, Devindar Singh Rana, GQ Pardesi and Revinder Kumar Sharma.

First Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 - 22:56

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