HC Bans Constructions in Sonamarg Till Further Orders

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Srinagar—To save Sonamarg from becoming a concrete jungle, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday banned till further orders all constructions at the tourist resort in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

“We have noticed that constructions are taking place in Sonmarg. We direct that no construction shall be carried till further orders,” a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said while hearing a Public Interest Litigation relating to illegal construction on the banks of river Sindh.

“In wake of alarming condition of Sonamarg, the instant petition is treated as suomoto proceedings taken by the court in order to save the resort before becoming a concrete jungle,” the court said.

To a question by the court, Advocate General replied that the then Chief Executive Officer of Sonmarg Development Authority has granted the permissions for the constructions.

Subsequently, the court directed its registry to plead Chief Executive Officer (CEO) SDA, Regional Wildlife Warded Kashmir, and Divisional Forest Officer Sindh as party respondents to the PIL and issued notice to them.

The court adjourned the matter for two weeks and till then, directed the CEO SDA to file the map of Sonamarg area. The map should contain complete geographical details regarding forest, wildlife area and that of proper Sonmarg resort, the court said.

The division bench also directed the authorities to submit the Master Plan of Sonamarg which as per the information given by the advocate General has been put into effect since 2007.

“I have seen situation in Sonmarg. It is alarming as buildings are coming up in meadows. Glaciers are receding and mountains are crumbling which is a major cause of global warming. Forest area in Sonamarg has also been eaten away,” the Chief Justice had observed during the hearing of PIL on Pahalgam and underlined that the officials must do their job “honestly.”

Concerned Court Seeks Map of Gulmarg

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed authorities to submit map of Gulmarg containing details about all the villages as well as forest and wildlife sanctuary in the world famous tourist resort in north Kashmir.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said that it was imperative that Chief Town Planner, Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, Deputy Commissioner Baramulla and DFO Tangmarg convene a meeting and ensure a comprehensive map.

Thereafter, the court told the Chief Town Planner that he shall suggest as to which village be included or excluded in Gulmarg Development area. “We also noticed that no CEO is in place for the last one month. Such a state of affairs is unacceptable,” the court said and directed the state government to appoint the officer within one week.

On previous hearing, the court was informed that there are 26 villages under GDA and out of them, 19 villages have been demarcated.

Thecourt was hearing the PIL filed in 2012 by one Mohammad Rafiq Zargar, seeking directions for protection of fragile environment of Gulmarg.

The court has time and again said that a duty is cast on all the functionaries of the State responsible and entrusted with the assignment of maintaining the glory and beauty of the world famous tourist resort, Gulmarg, to maintain its standard in all its forms.

With regard to use of polythene, the court noticed that indiscriminate waste was dumped in Gulmarg. “Steps be takan for banning the same. Photographs shown to court reveals garbage is dumped in Gulmarg,” the court said.

Executive Officer of Municipality Gulmarg, the court said, shall ensure that directions from time to time and laws are implemented in letter and spirit so far as garbage was concerned.

“Entry of polythene and other plastic items be checked at Tanagmarg entry point by the authorities,” the court said and expressed hope that there would be clear implementation of laws.

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