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NC, PDP, PC denounce proposed amendments to Building Operations Act

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Srinagar: Several political parties in Jammu and Kashmir have resented the administration’s decision of amending Control of Buildings Operations Act, 1970 to notify ‘strategic areas’ in the Union Territory for the armed forces.

The Administrative Council (AC) which met on Friday okayed the proposal of amending the Control of Building Operations Act, 1988 and the J&K Development Act, 1970 to provide for special dispensation for carrying out construction activities in “strategic areas”.

The amendments proposed by Housing & Urban Development Department will pave way for notifying certain areas as “strategic areas” in terms of the requirement of armed forces and in such areas, the regulation of construction activity shall be through a special dispensation.

Reacting to the decision, National Conference said the proposed amendments will  undermine the civil authority and turn the entire region into a military establishment.

Party spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar said that at a time when voices are being raised against the poor implementation of the cantonment act and construction rules across the country, we have a headless dispensation in J&K proposing to put more chunks of land under the control of security forces at the pretext of smooth construction for requirements of armed forces in such proposed notified areas.

The party spokesperson said as per the statement of former CM in Legislative Assembly in 2018,  thousands of hectares of our land are already under the possesion of Army and other security forces.

“Under president’s rule, the J&K administration has already given up 243 hectares of forest land for army and paramilitary use, over 727 hectares of designated forest land was diverted between September 18 and October 21 by the former forest advisory committee FAC. The committee had also approved felling of 1847 trees that included 1471 in designated forest areas alone; one could well gauge the enormous destruction to our rich forest resources if the proposed amendments come into force.  The amendment will circumvent the forest rules, regulation and with a stroke of pen have our natural resources obliterated that too in a fragile Himalayan ecosystem of ours. It will affect the wildlife also,” Imran said.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader and former minister, Naeem Akhtar described the step ‘scarier than scrapping of special status.’

“It seems we might not be left with enough land even for graveyards…It means no resident of Jammu and Kashmir has any power in determining even the basic functions of local government,” Akhtar was quoted saying by a national daily.

Slamming the decision, Peoples Conference senior vice president Abdul Gani Vakil said that these moves are meant to alter, unrecognizably, the destiny of the people of Kashmir.

Asserting that the present proposal is aimed at taking complete control of these ‘strategic areas’, Vakil, in a statement, said that construction activities in strategic areas is ruse to allow changing the demographics and population ratio in Kashmir.

“Why should the government need to give a go by to Control of Building Operations Act, 1988 and the J&K Development Act, 1970? These laws require compliance of Master Plan, building bye-laws and Land Use rules. The government is otherwise empowered to acquire land for defense purposes under existing laws”, he added.

Stressing that Delhi seems to be on a one way trip to disaster in Kashmir, Vakil said that as much as the saner and rational elements are hoping against hope that good sense might prevail in Delhi, Delhi on the other hand seems to be goading the Kashmiris every day.

“This whole exercise is shocking and there will be long term consequences. The fight in Kashmir has always been between the unionists and the separatists. One fails to understand whose side Delhi is on. The unionists have been left red faced and humiliated – being rendered to helpless mute bystanders while non locals sit across a table and decide on the fate and destiny of the inhabitants of J and K”, he added.

Vakil further said that it is ironical that in the midst of COVID, the administration actually has the time to come up with such lengthy gibberish.

“A state where COVID is truly on rampage and where the administration is so drowned in a world of its own that you can’t find a tablet of the life saving drug Remdesivir, they have the audacity of sitting across a table bring in changes meant to alter unrecognizably the destiny of the people of Kashmir. These are sad days. And now it seems certain that Delhi is keen to push the Kashmiris to the wall. The damage being inflicted is irreversible.”

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