January 2016 News

Land Mafia Hell Bent To Destroy Picturesque Pahalgam

17 January 2016
Kashmir Observer
Nusrat Sidiq

Srinagar: A 68 year old accord by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah to give some land of Pahalgam to 30-40 cattle grazers at that time for temporary sheltering has become a big nexus of land Mafia over a period of 3 decades. In 1948, the then Prime Minister of J&K, Mr. Sheikh Abdullah leased some plots on temporary basis to some shepherds under J&K Gazette of 60C wherein it was made clear that this land was provided on a temporary basis and no person-persons shall have a right on the acquisition of this land. But since then the dwelling of these people remained intact and has grown to a population of around 1000 persons. In 1951, a backup plan was set up to rehabilitate these shepherds to some other place. This, later on proved to be a hoax. These shepherds continued to occupy the said space, In 2002, a Master Plan for developing Pahalgam was introduced and some plots were identified by Revenue Department for beautification of Pahalgam without the involvement of Forest Department and Environment and Remote Sensing Department. The construction was taken by Revenue department and 100 huts were built in fragile ecosystem of Pahalgam. An RTI in 2014 was filed by the 'Pahalgam society Welfare' wherein it was required to crackdown on land Mafia groups which are on prowl in Pahalgam. The Pahalgam Land Mafia is selling land to people without having the right to do so. As per the Pahalgam welfare society, 500-600 people work under this nexus.They sell the land to others by showing them fake documents. Every single Government is watching as A mute spectator and more importantly many government officials are hand in glove with these people. Around 60 plots of land have been sold from last two years to hoteliers and other people by this land mafia and have illegally earned crores of rupees till date. The constructions have come up on the banks of Lidder River in Yannar and Mawoora areas of Pahalgam in South Kashmir, the commercial structures continue to operate illegally and authorities are tightlipped on this issue. The hotels and huts are operating without NOC from Tourism department, according to the Society. In 2014, Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed authorities in Anantnag to demolish illegal structures in the vicinity of Pahalgam. The judge in his order had strictly directed Revenue Department, Fisheries Department and Pahalgam development authority (PDA) to follow the orders. Dismantling of few structures in the same year shifted focus from the issue and around this year many more illegal structures have been raised, thus risking the eco- fragile ecosystem. Sources said about 600 kanals of State land have been grabbed by land mafia with the support of revenue officials. The Patwaris fudge the documents by vesting the proprietary rights to the mafia said an official. The mafia and hoteliers also went on to occupy hundreds of kanals of Kahcharai land. The locals say though they sought information under RTI from former tehsildar but same was denied. The Chief Executive officer, Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) Mr. Riaz Ahmed said, ' we are overall hauling the master plan of 2002 because there are some deformities in it and a new Master plan is about to come up with a pre-planned discussion over it taking cognizance of eco-fragility environment of Pahalgam. With the honourable High Court Directions, we have already dismantled many illegal structures and with respect to mafia mongers state government has to take a planned action on these people as well as the officials involved in it'.