The Jammu Development Authority (JDA) has illegally sold 8 kanals of land to a hotelier along the Tawi river for about Rs 20 crore. The piece was the part of 44-kanal Maharaja Hari Singh Park. The then chief minister and union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had started work on it.
The land was reclaimed for beautification of Jammu city.
"Tawi land can't be sold. The land can't be regularised under Roshni Act. No construction activity can be carried on the reclaimed land also," said commissioner-secretary, public health engineering (PHE), Pawan Kotwal.
According to sources, the JDA has also decided to review land sale and contemplating to cancel it.
The proposal to sell the land was conceptualised when deputy chief minister Tara Chand was heading urban development department and also municipal corporation. According to sources, a special proposal was made in 2010 to bifurcate the land from the park and sell it. The proposal was cleared in the meeting of board of directors of JDA, chaired by deputy chief minister.
"The land was transferred to the JDA and we auctioned it. It was not part of park but adjoining to the park," said JDA vice-chairman Satish Nehru.Pawan Kotwal, however, said, "Tawi land or any land on the river bed can't be transferred."
The work to develop park was started in 2002, when Mufti Sayeed was the chief minister and then Jammu East MLA Yogesh Sawhney, also MoS then, had taken the initiative. Then MoS for roads and buildings GA Mir, now cabinet minister, chaired a first meeting in this regard in 2003.
The project gained momentum when Azad was the chief minister who visualised and started executing work on development of park to give a facelift to the city and also for its beautification.
After the land was reclaimed, a suggestion was also to use this piece of land for holding rallies, exhibitions or other activities, as it was only available land in the heart of the city, but also a bit away from commercial hub.
However, a proposal was made to cut out the piece of land on the plea that JDA would require money to maintain it. Another proposal was made that maintenance be extended to Jammu municipal corporation, which will provide funds it receives from urban development ministry under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) schemes.
Deputy chief minister was then heading JMC also. "Plea for raising money to develop park is also not sound as park can be maintained by roping in many corporate houses. Even J&K Bank can be approached for its funding. Apparently some move already going to get the piece of the land," said a senior official wishing not to be named.
Ex-minister to take up matter
Ex-minister and former MLA from Jammu East Yogesh Sawhney said he worked hard to get this proposal park project executed and can't accept sale of its land for hotel. He said the plan could be executed only through the support of Ghulam Nabi Azad. Azad was very interested in making city a beautiful place and this land was marked for beautification and also to provide space for recreational activities. "A lot of effort and work had gone into reclaiming land by engineers. I will approach Azad against it and see to it that the deal is scrapped," he added.