New Delhi: The Jammu Development Authority (JDA) has served notice to former J&K state deputy chief minister and senior BJP leader Nirmal Singh, and his wife Mamta Singh, to demolish their “illegal” bungalow at Ban village near an Army ammunition sub-depot in Nagrota, informing them that it was constructed without requisite permission from authorities concerned, Indian Express has reported.
The November 8 order has directed them to “remove the illegal structure on your own level within five days from the date of issuance of this order’’, failing which authorities would pull down the construction by collecting the cost of removal from Singh.
“If you fail to remove the illegal construction within the stipulated period of time, the same shall be demolished by the enforcement wing of JDA and cost of removal shall be recovered from you as arrears of land revenue,’’ says the order issued by Building Operations Controlling Authority, Jammu.
According to rules, the general public is barred from carrying out any construction activity within 1,000 yards of defence works. However, in the case of the particular bungalow, according to authorities, Singh violated norms and went ahead with construction, which began around October 2017. Repeated notices and orders issued to stop the construction did not prove effective. Singh was in office when the construction was in full swing. He resigned from his deputy chief minister post on April 30, 2018. Meanwhile, Singh’s family moved into the 2,000 square metre bungalow in July this year.
On being asked about the demolition order, Singh said he had asked his lawyers to challenge the order in the court. He alleged that he was being “singled out”.
“There are thousands of houses being constructed in Jammu even today, but a jihadi group has been after me. They don’t look at Bathindi, how the houses of (NC leaders) Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah have come up there. There should be a rule of law, but why am I being singled out?’’ he asked.
He did not elaborate on his allegation that “a jihadi group has been after me”, and specifically what he meant by “a jihadi group”.
It may be recalled that construction activity went ahead unhindered even after the high court issued an order in May 2018 to ensure “strict implementation” of a 2015 government notification barring the general public from construction within 1,000 yards of defence works. The high court issued the order in response to a writ petition filed by the Union government challenging the construction of the bungalow, stating it was just 580 yards from the perimeter boundary wall of the sub-depot.
The petition had been filed after civil and police officials could not stop construction even after there were written requests from top Army officials at Nagrota-based 16 Corps Headquarters. In fact, in November 2017, a month after construction had started on the said plot the then Jammu deputy commissioner in a letter instructed police and civil administration to stop the activity. The letter had stated that it was in violation of the Works of Defence Act, 1903. But no action was initiated.
On September 26 this year, the Union Territory administration said that the bungalow was “illegal” construction in response to an RTI (Right to Information) query from an advocate, Muzaffar Ali Shan.
The latest order served on Singh states that “in response to the show cause notice under Section 7(1) of J&K Control of Building Operation Act, 1988, served to you, no reply or reply of the same has not been by this office till date’’. It also states that notices served to them under Sections 12(1) and 12(2) of the Act ask them to stop and remove the construction.