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10 feet strip: Gandhi Nagar residents seek LG Sinha’s intervention

J&K Housing through a public notice has threatened to demolish the boundary walls and other structures on the frontal 10ft strips on at least five major roads involving about 400 house owners in Gandhinagar Housing colony if it is  not vacated by 7th November, 2021.

The Residents Welfare Association of Jammu’s posh Gandhi Nagar area has appealed to the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha to urgently intervene and direct the Managing Director, J&K Housing Board to recall  his erroneous and draconian order  of demolition of structures in front 10ft strip against about 400 householders  of Gandhinagar Housing Colony Jammu after  60 years. 

In an appeal to LG, the Secretary General of the Association, Er Chander Uday Sharma, said that the public notice of 8th October, 2021 of the Managing Director of is arbitrary, ill-conceived and bad in law to harass the peace loving nationalist house owners which has let loose a reign of uncertainty of possible huge demolition in Gandhinagar.

J&K Housing through a public notice has threatened to demolish the boundary walls and other structures on the frontal 10ft strips on at least five major roads involving about 400 house owners in Gandhinagar Housing colony if it is  not vacated by 7th November, 2021.

The Association said that the MD has mischievously made a case for all out demolition on willfully wrong and flawed ground of encroachment of five roads whereas the fact remained that no road was ever encroached by the residents. The road width of four of the five roads identified for demolition was 40ft in 1960 which is corroborated from the building plans approved then and even today it has the same width, in fact in some cases more than 40ft. The building plans of houses approved in sixtiesclearly indicate this width. This is reflected in the Gandhinagar Colony’s layout plan revised in 2007 as well.  How can the MD Housing Board say that the roads have been encroached? Why has this issue been sought to be raised after 60 years after the creation of the colony? 

The Secretary General urged the Lt General to get this basic fact verified on the ground and said that the drains and electric poleson these roads were created by the government agencies that are abutting the road as well as the boundary wall.

The Gandhinagar Housing Colony is the first well planned colony established in late fifties by the then Prime Minister Bakshi Ghulam Mohd who personally motivated Govt officials, prominent citizens, educationists, businessmen, traders, politicians etc to buy the plots on very concessional rates in a bid to establish this colony . The area was almost a jungle and the people were reluctant to move here.  Since the residents of old Jammu city were reluctant to move out of their comfortable familiar environs, Mr. Bakshi reportedly took personal interest in persuading the people to buy plots and gave all sops like quick house building allowance, available additional roadside strips etc. 

The colony was planned beautifully and it is still the best livable Colony in J&K even after the passage of six decades. The Town Planners had kept lot of open spaces, parks and very wide roads and back lanes. The tragedy is that while the Housing Board created in late seventies, has  failed to create more housing colonies in the fast expanding winter capital as per its statutory mandate except Channi Himmat, it is trying to cover up its abject failure to meet the housing needs of the people by raising this unnecessary issue to harassing residents.

The Secretary General appealed to the LG to appreciate that sixty years is a long period and many of the original allottees have since passed away and the second or third generation is living these houses. In many cases, the properties had changed second or even third hand as this land is free-hold.  Many others had partitioned the original plots as a consequence of family settlement.  So, the fact is that most of the present occupants might not have full record. The Colony was not created by the Housing Board but the Housing Department of the J&K Govt and as such doesn’t have legal right to demolish structures.

During the past sixty years, thousands of building plans for construction of houses on these allotted plots in Gandhinagar colony were approved by the Jammu Municipal Corporation showing the same 40ft width of the road in the front. Moreover, the same Housing Board had been issuing NOC for the approval of building plans. It is beyond our comprehension as to why the Housing Board is targeting us? 

Whatever may be the objective of this coercive action to force the residents to vacate 10-ft front strip after 60 years, it could only be achieved by demolishing hundreds of concrete structures as the residents are not willing to give in and would fight it out. The concrete structures that had been allowed to come up on these strips all along were raised with the tacit support of authorities of JMC and Housing Board. 

Most of these constructions had since been compounded through the State Administrative Tribunal and thus stand regularised. Intriguingly, the authorities which are now forcing plot holders to vacate land are the same who directly or tacitly, are responsible for all types of violations including commercialization of residential area.  Covering up their complicity and laxity cannot be the basis for now harassing nationalist residents of Gandhinagar now.

Expressing full faith in PM Modi and LG, the Association humbly seeks immediate intervention to restrain the Housing Board and Jammu Municipal Corporation from taking any coercive action against the peaceful possession of the residents of Gandhinagar. In fact, the Residents were expecting some discernible improvement in our living conditions by way of better facilities like Sewerage Treatment Plant, proper drainage to prevent flooding of water in some pockets but the authorities have given them a rude shock treatment unexpected at least during rule of LG Shri Manoj Sinha and PM Modi.


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