DB directs removal of all illegal constructions near River Tawi bed

JAMMU, JUL 21: The much publicized Public Interest Litigations filed by Advocate Dewakar Sharma and Ashish Sharma highlighting various issues involving the conservation/preservation of River Tawi, in which J&K High Court has already banned the construction on bank of River Tawi and also ban on mining from River Tawi, came up for hearing before the State High Court here today.
A Division Bench of J&K High Court comprising Justice Tashi Rabstan and Justice Sanjay Kumar Gupta after hearing both the sides at length and after considering the status report filed by the Members of Monitoring Committee as well as the statement of Advocate SS Ahmed, observed that it seems there is a strong nexus between mining mafia and the authorities of Jammu Municipal Corporation, Jammu Development Authority, Geology & Mining Department as well as police authorities and the persons who are undertaking illegal construction around the bed of river Tawi despite complete ban by this Court on 17.11.2016 on such activities right from Nagrota to Belicharana.
The Division Bench directed the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to personally convene a meeting of concerned officers of Police Department, Jammu Municipal Corporation; Jammu Development Authority; Tourism Department, Housing & Urban Development Department, Geology & Mining Department, Irrigation & Flood Control Department, J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) and National Building Construction Corporation, so as to ascertain whether the orders passed by this Court on 29.07.2016, 17.11.2016, 28.12.2016, 06.02.2017, 17.07.2017, 25.08.2017, 25.09.2017 and 01.11.2017 have been complied with or not. Let compliance report to this effect be filed on the next date of hearing.
The DB further directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to make fool proof arrangement so that no illegal extraction of mineral mining is done any more from River Tawi in terms of order dated 17.11.2016 as also no illegal construction is made around the bed of river Tawi.
The DB further directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu that concerned agencies be directed to conduct survey and forthwith remove/ dismantle the illegal constructions/ encroachments, whether residential or commercial, which have been made or is being made on the State land near bed of River Tawi right from Nagrota to Belicharana up to Phallai Mandal and positively file a compliance report before this Court on the next date of hearing.
The DB further directed that in identifying the illegal construction, Divisional Commissioner will also take the help of Members of Monitoring Committee, which has specifically stated in its latest status report that even after the ban of illegal construction, the same is going on clandestinely.
The DB further directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu shall also identify all constructions coming and falling on either side of River Tawi, from its fringe line, either Government or individual, whether such constructions are authorized/ unauthorized, and prepare a list of such constructions, so that such constructions are removed. Those constructions, which are authorized one, shall be compensated and rehabilitated at some other place, as has been done in case of Dal Lake dwellers. It is further directed that after undertaking the process of preparation of list of constructions and removal thereof, the vacant land shall be handed over to Parks and Gardens Department of Jammu and Kashmir State Government for beautification of river Tawi bed. Such directions have already been passed in paragraphs-9 & 10 on 17.11.2016 in the instant petitions.
The DB further directed Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to produce the list on affidavits of all such constructions including removed/ dismantled on the next date of hearing.
The DB further observed that in case any officer/ official of law enforcing agencies, particularly Police Department, Geology & Mining Department, Jammu Development Authority, Jammu Municipal Corporation, Irrigation & Flood Control Department is found involved in facilitating such illegal activities of construction and mineral mining, Chief Secretary of the State is directed to take stern action against such officer(s) and even demote such person(s) from his/her present place of posting.
The DB also directed NBBC and Project Manager JK ERA to file fresh status report.
It observed that in case of failure in complying/obeying the above directions well before the next date of hearing, the same shall amount to contempt of Court and the concerned officers/officials shall accordingly be proceeded against for commission of contempt of Court.
When this matter was taken up for hearing, Sr. Superintendent of Police, Jammu filed the status report. Members of the Monitoring Committee, constituted by this Court, have also filed the latest fortnight report.
The DB after perusal of status report filed on behalf of National Building Construction Corporation (NBBC), respondent No.8 in WPPIL No.19/2012, with regard to underground sewerage work in the City of Jammu observed that since the status report is dated 12.12.2017, therefore the NBBC is directed to file fresh status report with complete and up-to-date information.
The DB further observed that members of the Monitoring Committee have also filed the latest fortnight status report bringing to the notice of the Court that the Committee made surprise visits regarding the subject matter of instant petitions on 04.07.2018, 12.07.2018 and 14.07.2018 and it was found that construction activities were going on clandestinely on the State land near bed of River Tawi in Nikki Tawi area at Belicharana, near 4th Tawi Bridge; the construction seemed to be of residential as well as commercial in nature, located in the area around the river, which clearly shows that the authorities under Jammu Municipal Corporation and Jammu Development Authority are not taking any serious steps for preventing the encroachment of State land, rather they are directly facilitating such illegal construction on the State land around the bed of river Tawi in blatant violation of orders of this Court. JNF