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CBI initiates probe into violation of Patnitop Master Plan (Lead)

Wednesday - January 15, 2020 7:00 pm , Category : SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
New Delhi, Jan 15 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has initiated a preliminary enquiry into the alleged violations of the master plan of Patnitop hill station in Jammu & Kashmir by hotel owners and commercial establishment owners in conspiracy with public servants and collected documents from several authorities of over 50 hotels, officials said.
CBI spokesperson Nitin D. Wakankar said that the CBI registered the preliminary enquiry to probe the allegations of the violations of the Master Plan of Patnitop area by hotel owners and commercial establishment owners in conspiracy with public servants serving at Patnitop Development Authority and others, following the Jammu & Kashmir High Court order dated December 31, 2019.
The High Court had directed the CBI to complete the probe within eight weeks and submit its report. According to the CBI, 59 hotels and resorts are allegedly violating master plan of the Patnitop area. The High Court passed the order on the basis of a PIL filed by the President of Hotel and Restaurant Association, Patnitop, in which he alleged about glaring violation of the Master Plan of Patnitop area, resulting in 70 per cent of the hotels and restaurants having been constructed without permission.
In his PIL he also alleged that constructions have been illegally done in green buffer areas, forest land, state land including Kahcharai land in connivance with officials of Patnitop Development Authority and others.
Wakankar said that the CBI has constituted a team of more than 30 officers, who are presently camping at Patnitop, Udhampur and Jammu in connection with this enquiry. Another senior CBI official said that the agency's team has already collected documents of 50 properties from the District Collector, Forest, Tourism and Electricity department offices of the newly-carved Union Territory.
The HC in its order had said that the guest houses of the Patnitop were misusing the land, which has been earmarked for agriculture and the Jammu & Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act, 1976 is applicable. The official said that the Mariyam Begum Hotel is misusing green buffer land and has constructed a building put to commercial use. He said that the then Minister of Housing and Urban Development Department illegally approved the unauthorised construction of 4,547 square feet by the Hotel Forest View.
"Even the hotels were running at Patnitop without any registration and authorisation from the competent authority," the official said.
"Non compoundable deviation by property owners in Patnitop area was illegally compounded by a special tribunal which was not challenged in most of the cases by Patnitop Development Authority," an official said.
The authorities took no action despite non-deposit of compounding fee by the hoteliers, he said. They compounded the violation even in instances wherein no permission has been taken for raising the buildings, he said.
The hotel owners had put the electricity and water connections obtained for domestic use to commercial use and the properties were being run on the licences for guest houses, the official said. He further said that uncontrolled construction has resulted in serious degradation to the natural surroundings.

--IANS aks/kr

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