Patnitop land grab case: CBI conducts searches at 11 places

The accused were involved in allowing land encroachments at tourist locations in Udhampur

The CBI on Tuesday conducted searches at 11 places in Jammu, Udhampur and Kathua districts of Jammu and Kashmir in connection with allegations of large-scale illegal construction and land encroachment in Patnitop.

The searches have been carried out on the office and residential premises of several public servants, including then Chief Executive Officers of the Patnitop Development Authority (PDA). The accused were involved in allowing land encroachments at tourist locations in the Patnitop area of Udhampur.

“A preliminary enquiry was earlier conducted on the directions of the J&K High Court in the matter,” said a CBI official. The role of all the PDA Chief Executive Officers and other functionaries, who were posted in the past 25 years, has come under the scanner.

The court order, in December 2019, for the probe pertained to alleged violations of the master plan in the Patnitop and Sanasar areas, which come under the PDA. The allegations included failure on the part of the authorities to prevent illegal constructions and the change in land use. The violators had got electricity and water connections.

It was alleged that in several cases, people who were granted licences to run guest houses had been operating hotels. Owing to the illegal construction, a large number of trees were illegally felled.

In July 2016, then J&K government stated that about 16.41 lakh kanals of public land had been illegally encroached. The figure stood at 12.68 lakh kanals in Jammu. Over 8625.63 hectare of forest land was grabbed in Jammu, while about 3,404 was illegally occupied in Kashmir.

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