Rashid Paul

HC grants govt month’s time to file status report

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Changing land use in Pahalgam Master Plan 2005 to 2025…

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday granted one month time to the government to file status report in a 2008 case against Mir Naseem Ahmad, former Chief Town Planner and others for conferring undue benefit upon themselves by mischievously changing land use in the Pahalgam Master Plan 2005 to 2025.

The direction followed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking completion of the investigation pursuance to the case (FIR No. 27/2008) by State Vigilance Organisation (SVO) and to charge-sheet the respondents — bureaucrats of the J&K administration — for vandalizing Pahalgam tourist resort for personal gains.

According to the 13-year-old FIR by SVO, Mir Naseem Ahmad, then Chief Town Planner; Hamid Ahmad Wani, then Town Planner; and Nazir Ahmad, then Assistant Town Planner, had misused their official position.

They had conferred undue benefit upon themselves by mischievously changing land use relating to Sub- zone A-14 in Pahalgam Master Plan.

A committee comprising of the trio was constituted in 2004 to prepare Master Plan (2005-2025) of Pahalgam.

“The members of the committee resorted to misrepresentation, manipulations and distortions whereby it was interalia proposed that sub-zone A-14 be de-notified to permit construction of hutments and other facilities in the Master Plan of Pahalgam Town (2005-2025),” said the investigating agency.

“This was aimed at achieving the mischievous design for personal gain of accused public servant Mir Naseem Ahmad to induce a sharp increase in cost of land,” it added.

The agency found that sub-zone A-13 having sizable population already residing and being contiguous with already de-notified area was willfully ignored, for personal gain while de-notifying sub-zone A-14, which is inaccessible and situated on the other side of Sheeshnag Nallah of river Lidder.

The former Chief Town Planner, it said, had in 1999 dishonestly and fraudulently acquired land measuring 29 Kanals 13 Marlas under survey No. 825, 827, 835 and 836 in Planning sub-zone A-14 at Pahalgam through gift deed shown to have been made by donors to his close, trusted and confident subordinate employees — Ishtiyaq Ahmad, Showkat Ahmad, sons of Muhammad Maqbool Ganai of Kalaroos Kupwara, and an associate Abdul Rashid of Hawal Srinagar.

The SVO said that after fraudulently acquiring the land in the name of “proxy owners”, a plan was conceived by Mir Naseem Ahmad to arbitrarily change the land use to induce sharp increase in the value of land in sub-zone A-14 for personal gain.

During investigation, various premises in Srinagar and Kupwara were raided by the SVO officials during which, besides other incriminating evidence, documents relating to the acquisition of land at various places were recovered.

The petitioner in the PIL prayed for quashing of the Master Plan 2005-2025 prepared by the Pahalgam Development Authority and framing it afresh.

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