HC Raps SDA for ‘Ruining Natural Beauty’ of Sonamarg

Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday pulled up Chief Executive Officer of Sonamarg Development Authority for rampant constructions in Sonamarg meadows and called for need to protect it from further destruction.

As soon as the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation started, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey asked the SDA’s CEO as how the constructions came up in the “meadow”.

The officer’s reply that Master Plan evoked retort by the court: “Then the Master Plan is useless.”

“If you allow constructions, everything is gone then. You people are going to ruin the nature’s beauty. Whole area of Sonamarg is being commercialized. Save it from further destruction” the court observed and adjourned the matter without passing any directions.

It posted the matter for further consideration along with a PIL which deals with safeguarding of water bodies especially River Jhelum on ensuing Monday “so that effective directions can be passed.”

To save Sonamarg from becoming a concrete jungle, the High Court last week banned till further orders all constructions at the tourist resort.

“We have noticed that constructions are taking place in Sonmarg. We direct that no construction shall be carried till further orders,” the court had said while hearing a PIL relating to illegal construction on the banks of river Sindh.

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

To a question by the court, Advocate General had replied that the then CEO of SDA has granted the permissions for the constructions.

Subsequently, the court had 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 division bench had 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.”




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