Criticism of strategic zones to facilitate construction by armed forces in J&K unfounded: Govt
Says ‘decision did not bypass any existing laws’
Srinagar: Reacting to the statements made by National Conference, Peoples Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, without mentioning the name of the parties, regarding proposed amendments to Building Operations Act, an official spokesperson today said that misgivings have been expressed in the media regarding the decision.
“A few political parties are deliberately misleading people as if land is being transferred to Armed Forces and entire J&K is being turned into a military establishment. It is being alleged that new areas are going to be declared as strategic where laws regulating development will not prevail. All these are baseless comments being made without reading facts,” said the spokesman in a communiqué issued today.
The spokesperson said that the decision has nothing to do with the transfer of any land to the Armed Forces.
“The transfer, both acquisition or requisitions, continues to be governed by the existing law and the norms on the subject. There is no decision to either transfer any new land or declare areas outside cantonments or army land as strategic. In fact, it is the stated policy of the Government to regulate and harmonize the requirement of land by the Armed forces to meet the competing demands of development and internal security,” said the spokesman.
He said that during past some years, the Defence Forces have brought to the notice of the government that multiple issues keep commonly coming up in their infrastructure development activities which are not only cumbersome and time-consuming, but at times go against strategic interests. Keeping in view the strategic importance of constructing such infrastructure within a defined timeframe, it has been felt that a special mechanism needs to be put in place for such strategic infrastructure needs. “On the other hand, it is also important to ensure that whatever development takes place, especially when it is in the local areas of development authorities, it conforms to the overall developmental plan. The reconciliation of these two competing exigencies of public interest is important. It is with the above objective the Government has approved this special dispensation,” added the spokesman.
“What it means? It simply means that in the so called notified “Strategic Areas”, within existing Armed Forces land, the responsibility of ensuring that construction activities are undertaken as per the Developmental Control Regulation of the Master Plan and all environmental safeguards are observed, has been delegated to the Armed Forces themselves,” said the spokesman.
He further said that the special dispensation neither gives any powers to the Armed Forces to acquire more land in the Jammu & Kashmir, nor does it allow them any unbridled powers, without observing environmental safeguards and Developmental Control Regulations of the Master Plan.
“It only facilitates fast tracking of the construction of strategic assets, in the overall national interest, while observing all norms,” added the spokesperson.
On Friday, the Administrative Council (AC), which met here under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu, gave its nod to the proposal to amend the Control of Building Operations Act, 1988 and the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970 to provide for a special dispensation to carry out construction activities in the “Strategic Areas”.
The press release said the amendments proposed by the Housing and Urban Development department will pave the way for notifying certain areas as “Strategic Areas” in terms of the armed forces’ requirement and in such areas, the regulation of construction activity shall be through a special dispensation.
The government’s move was criticised by National Conference, Peoples Conference and Peoples Democratic Party.