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Expansion of area under Development Authorities opposed

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By Arun Pratap Singh

DEHRADUN, 20 Feb: It was after a long time that the Question Hour went off smoothly in the state assembly, today! However, members across the parties opposed expansion of area under jurisdiction of development authorities and also the establishment of district level development authorities. In response to a starred question by Deshraj Karnwal of the BJP, Urban Development Minister Madan Kaushik admitted that the government had merged some of the local development authorities in many districts into 11 new district level development authorities (MDDA and Haridwar Development Authority not included).
Kaushik informed the House that, in the new authorities, all the notified areas of respective districts had been brought under the new district level authorities. He added that to run the new authorities, 571 new posts had been created but many of the posts were presently being filled up through deputation where there was no question of reservation.
However, other members started asking supplementary questions and strongly opposed the creation of new district level authorities. Members from the opposition as well as the treasury benches expressed their reservation over the creation of the new authorities and they opposed the expansion of area under jurisdiction of these authorities. Gopal Rawat and Sanjay Gupta pointed out that following the set up of new authorities, villages too had been brought under regulation of the new authorities and the villagers were not able to easily get their building maps approved. They were facing difficulties in this respect for a number of reasons. Many were not in a position to pay very high fees for map approvals, while many others who had constructed their houses years before the establishment of these authorities were now receiving notices from the authorities asking to show map approval documents.
Rajesh Shukla of BJP disclosed that a large number of residents in his constituency had been legally settled by the then CM of UP, GB Pant in 1950, but had not been given individual documents of land lease. Instead, the lease documents mentioned group of persons and after several generations, their descendants were not able to get their residential maps approved. Harish Dhami and Govind Singh Kunjwal said that in rural areas of their constituencies, it was a common practice in the past to exchange land with others as per the convenience of both and then construct the houses. Now such persons were also not able to get their maps approved.
The members further demanded that jurisdiction of these authorities be restricted to urban areas only. They insisted on a review of the decision to constitute these authorities which according to them had become a mode of harassment of people. They also demanded constitution of a committee of the members for review of the decision. Urban Development Minister Madan Kaushik said that he had no objection if a committee was constituted by the Speaker towards this objective. Following this, Speaker Prem Chand Aggarwal announced constitution of a committee of the members which would study the whole issue deeply and submit its report and the recommendations to the House. Names of the members would be decided later.
In response to another starred question by Preetam Singh Panwar in respect of damaged forest roads in the state, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prakash Pant, in the absence of Forest Minister Harak Singh Rawat, informed the House that there were a total of 2583 roads in the state that were categorised as forest roads. Of them, nearly 70 were fully or partially damaged at present. In response to a supplementary question, Pant added that repairing and reconstruction of damaged forest roads was a continuous process but at the same time, few other forest roads also got damaged. He added that damaged forest roads were repaired or reconstructed with the funds available under SPA and CAMPA projects. In response to another supplementary question by Suresh Rathore, Pant stated that some of the earlier forest roads were now closed due to environmental reasons by the Centre or NGT. Sanjeev Arya said that a road in his constituency had earlier been approved under PMGSY and the funds were also released but now the road project had been cancelled due to a large number of oak trees. Pant said that individual cases could be got examined separately.
After the Question Hour, Deputy Speaker Raghunath Singh Chauhan, who was in the chair, read out the Speaker’s decision on a notice regarding alleged breach of privilege given by Harish Dhami, earlier. He said that upon inquiry, it was found that there was no breach of privilege as had been alleged by Dhami and the accused officers had not committed any breach of the protocol in respect of Dhami. He had not been mistreated. Dhami was not satisfied with the decision of the Speaker and accused the decision of being partial in favour of the officers. Leader of the Opposition Indira Hridayesh and PCC Chief Pritam Singh supported their party colleague Harish Dhami and said that it was a serious charge and it was natural for the accused officials to deny the allegation. The judgement ought to have been fair. On this, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prakash Pant said that it was not at all fair to point fingers at the Chair, the matter had been looked into deeply by the and the judgement had come and it was not the tradition to make allegations. After some heated exchanges, between the treasury benches and the opposition, better sense prevailed and the matter was over.