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Forest Minister’s Stone Crusher/Tiles Unit on Agricultural land;HC directs for measurement between stone crusher and school/hospital

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JAMMU: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday directed appointment of a qualified Public Works Department (PWD) official to conduct fresh measurement between the stone crusher owned by Forest Minister Lal Singh’s son and other public utilities like schools and hospitals.
In a writ petition filed by Rattno Devi and 23 others, Inhabitants of village Dhanna of tehsil Basohli in district Kathua, challenging Government Order No.100-Rev(S) of 2016 dated August, 4, 2016 issued by Commissioner/Secretary, Revenue Department whereby son of the Forest Minister was allowed to utilize the paddy growing irrigated agricultural land for industrial commercial purposes, Justice BS Walia of J&K High Court Jammu Wing on Friday after hearing Adv Ankur Sharma appearing for the petitioners that the measurement would be got carried out from a duly qualified person of PWD by associating a representative deputed by the petitioners who would be at liberty to submit proof with regard to the distance of the site where the stone crusher is to be established from the public utilities.
Justice BS Walia observed that after arguing the matter at length, counsel for the parties are in agreement that the measurement of the distances at the place where the stone crusher is to be installed be carried out afresh in order to verify as to whether the distance norms stipulated in particularly in the context public utilities are fulfilled or not.
The High Court further observed that Advocate General assisted by Ehsan Mirza, Deputy AG stated that the measurement would be got carried out on 21st November at 11 AM by a duly qualified person in the Public Works Department by associating a representative deputed by the petitioners who would be at liberty to submit proof with regard to the distance of the site where the stone crusher is to be established from the public utilities.
Upon this, the Court directed that pursuant to the inspection, report be filed in the Court alongwith copy to the petitioners as well as respondents. Record of measurement made be also produced in the Court through the official who is deputed to conduct the measurement.
On July 28, the High Court had ordered status quo on construction of Stone Crusher and Tiles Unit owned by the son of Minister for Forest, Ecology & Environment Choudhary Lal Singh.
The direction came on a petition filed by the residents of villages Dhanna and Barrah in district Kathua through Advocate Ankur Sharma, seeking cancellation of all NOCs issued in favour of Forest Minister’s, son Divya Suraj Partap Singh, violating all norms and rules.
The villagers had sought relief from illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and whimsical approach adopted by the senior government officers by allowing Divya Suraj Pratap Singh to set up around Rs 12 crore Stone Crusher and Tiles Unit on the paddy growing irrigated agricultural land near thickly populated area.
Citing an RTI reply, the petition stated that letter No. OQ/35 dated June 14, 2016 titled ‘Title Verification’ issued by Tehsildar Kathua mentions that the kind of soil on which Forest Minister Lal Singh’s son wants to install the Stone Crusher and Tiles Unit is ‘Pail Nehari’.
The RTI reply also contains an NOC DCK/HQ/2016-17/316-17 dated July 7, 2016 issued in favour of the Unit by the Office of Deputy Commissioner Kathua wherein the DC Kathua refers to the title verification issued by Tehsildar Kathua, (describing the soil type as ‘Pail Nehari’) and observes that given this title verification, this office has no objection against the installation of the Stone Crusher and Tiles Unit.
The inhabitants of village Dhanna under the Chairmanship of Sarpanch convened a meeting of the Gram Sabha to stop the installation of this Unit in their village, saying this will pollute the nearby residential areas. They alleged that hundreds of kanals of government land has been encroached.
The issuance of NOCs and permissions to Forest Minister’s son for setting up of the Unit by the officials in contravention of law and set norms/ procedures is a result of abuse of office and criminal conspiracy, stated the petition.
Advocate Ankur Sharma said, the Chairman State Pollution Control Board, Jammu had prescribed a revised and approved criteria with respect to new stone crushers vide its office order No. SPCB/PS/CH/PA/IV/131-135 dated February 2004. However, in this case, all rules were violated.
The petition has sought quashing the consent order No. 401 of 2016 dated June 29, 2016 issued by J&K State Pollution Control Board in favour of M/s Rawi Stone Crusher LLP at village Dhanna, the establishment of which on the agricultural land i.e. Pail Nehari land/soil and in between thickly populated area will affect the residents of Dhanna and Barrah villages prejudicially by damaging their agricultural lands and causing damage to the environment.
Advocate Sharma further sought cancelation of all NOCs granted in favour of M/s Rawi Stone Crusher LLP village Dhanna for setting up the unit producing stone crusher material, hot mix material and cement bricks/blocks/ pavers/tiles.
“In documents, the stone crusher has been shown set up over 7 Kanals of land while on ground it is spread over 100 Kanals State land, encroached by the Minister’s son,” said Advocate Ankur Sharma.

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