Govt starts retrieval of state land in Sidhra

Jammu district administration Saturday ordered closure of 29 restaurants, commercial structures and road side eateries, prima facie constructed on the state land, along Narwal-Sidhra National Highway.

These restaurants and road-side eateries constructed along Narwal Bye-pass road connecting Sidhra to Jammu-Srinagar National Highway were popular hang-out spots in the outskirts, away from the crowded Jammu city, among the youth. However, the authorities stated that these were constructed on state land, belonging to different government departments. They further added that there were certain complaints against some of the restaurants following which the revenue authorities accompanied by local police today directed the restaurant owners to close them down. Later, the administration learnt that these commercial structures were constructed on State land, prompting authorities to close them and seek explanation before going for eviction, according to an official.

Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Sushma Chauhan, told Greater Kashmir, “We have ordered closing of around 29 structures, which prima-facie appeared to have been constructed on State land from Narwal to Sidhra road.”

Chauhan, however, said that other “commercial establishments on the same road, which are not currently believed to be on State land, are operating normally.”

“We had received complaints that during weekends particularly, the vehicles would remain parked on the road along the 10 kms stretch, blocking almost half the highway,” said the DC Jammu.

She said, “When we went further to verify their building and parking plans, to our surprise, none of the structures were on private land. All of them were on State land belonging to Jammu Development Authority (JDA), PWD or the forest land.”

“It turned out to be an issue of encroachment. Of course, it is also a threat to the commuters plying on the Jammu-Srinagar National highway as people park their vehicles in the middle of the road. Many of the customers of these restaurants eat in their vehicles, parked on the roadside. It was necessary to immediately close these restaurants,” she said.

The DC Jammu said, “Even as our revenue records say that it is State land, but we have given them an opportunity to come forward and show us the document of the property before we proceed for eviction.”

“Police along with Revenue officials today directed us to close the restaurants. Hence, we have closed the restaurants,” said one of the restaurant owners, whose structure was situated on Sidhra road.

He claimed, “The property belongs to us and it is not a state land. We will show our documents to the authorities.”

“Mostly families used to come to our restaurants and we have enough parking and permissions from respective departments,” he claimed.

Meanwhile, a police officer said that they had kept an eye on the restaurants in peripheral areas of Jammu district. “Since youth come to these restaurants, we keep strict vigil on these restaurants,” a police officer said. The officer said, “Notices to some of the restaurants or eateries established on state land upto Ban Toll Plaza have also been served.”