Thursday, May 24, 2018 | 1:20 AM

J&K state land disputes: New Delhi continues to ignore decades of legal effort

Thursday, May 18, 2017

(Kashmir Reader) - Despite years of struggle, the Jammu and Kashmir government has failed to retrieve hundreds of kanals of land belonging to it but under the unauthorised occupation of various stakeholders outside the state.

The government of India owes J&K two properties, one in New Delhi and another at Chandigarh, but, ignoring decades of requests, it has not returned either of them to the state. The property in New Delhi is presently used by the India’s defence ministry, which has not even enhanced the rates of the state land despite the state government having pursued it with full vigor. The ministry pays only Rs 98,000 for the prized 96 kanals, fitted with massive building infrastructure, at Rajaji Marg in the heart of the capital.

“The rate was set during the time of Maharaja Hari Singh and never enhanced, despite the matter having been pursued at all decision-making levels. At one stage, the state government asked New Delhi to return it, but the demand fell on deaf ears. The defense ministry has agreed to enhance the rates, but that was never done,” a senior official at the hospitality and protocol department said.

The state-owned building under the possession of the labour and employment ministry at Chandigarh is another property that has not been retrieved.

“Despite the fact that the ministry has said it had purchased an alternative building, no effort relating to a transfer has been made,” he said.

The official said 1,250 kanals of land at Haryana has also not been retrieved despite the fact that the lease was of only five years.

“The case has been sub judice at a court in the state for many years now,” the official revealed.

Likewise, at Amritsar, more than 30 kanals of land under the occupation of three persons have still not been retrieved, he said.

“All the three illegal occupants have moved to different courts, and the state is contesting their claims there. No transfer has taken place,” he said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government owns various properties at many states of India. The government has received these properties in legacy of the former monarchical rulers, who took them over at various points in the past.

Ashok Kumar, under-secretary at the hospitality and protocol department, struck a small note of promise when he told Kashmir Reader that there had been a positive development in the matter of the properties at Amritsar and Chandigarh.

“Appropriate steps have been taken at appropriate times, and the process to get them back is on,” he said.