CBI raids 11 locations in Patnitop Master Plan violations case (Ld)

New Delhi, Aug 4 (IANS) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday carried out raids at 11 locations in Jammu and Kashmir in connection with its probe into the alleged violations of the Master Plan at Patnitop hill station by owners of hotels and other commercial establishments in connivance with public servants.

The raided places included official and residential premises of public servants, including Rakesh Kumar Sarangal, Additional Commissioner, Jammu; Raman Kumar Kesar, Joint Transport Commissioner, Jammu; and Rajendra Singh, KAS, Dy Commissioner, Sales Tax and Recovery.

The CBI seized documents related to fixed deposits and investments in immovable properties.

A CBI spokesperson said that different agency teams carried out searches at locations in Jammu, Udhampur, and Kathua districts at the offices/residences of other public servants as well, including then CEOs of Patnitop Development Authority (PDA) and others.

These officials include then CEOs of PDA — S.M Sahni, KK Gupta and Dr MA Malik — besides PDA Inspectors Amresh Jasrotia and Zaheer Abbas. Office premises of Transport and Sales Tax Departments too were raided.

The CBI booked 74 persons in the case after a preliminary enquiry (PE) into the Master Plan’s violations and collected documents of over 50 hotels from authorities concerned, like the District Collector, and Forest, Tourism and Electricity Departments.

According to the CBI, 59 hotels and resorts allegedly violated the Master Plan.

On January 15, the CBI had registered the PE after Jammu and Kashmir High Court on December 31, 2019 ordered the agency to complete the probe within eight weeks and submit its report.

The court order came on a PIL filed by Hotel and Restaurant Association President, Patnitop, wherein he alleged glaring violations that resulted in the construction of 70 per cent of hotels and restaurants in Patnitop without permission.

The CBI had constituted a team of more than 30 officers who camped at Patnitop, Udhampur, and Jammu for the probe in January this year.

–IANS
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