HC Permits Army To Construct Transit Camp At Sonamarg

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SRINAGAR — Observing that meter brooks no further delay, the Jammu and Kashmir high court today permitted army to raise construction of the Transit Camp at Sonamarg, the ecological fragile ‘golden ‘meadow’ in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district. 

The army submitted that since 1998, a Transit Camp has been operational in Sonamarg which remains functional from mid-April to mid-December and relocate during  winter season i.e. mid-December to mid-April keeping in view of weather conditions.

It submitted that for the reason that the existing infrastructure is inadequate to house the staff in transits, it is proposed to reconstruct and improve the existing infrastructure by raising the necessary permanent housing structure.

The army said the significance and the imperative need of the Transit Camp has been detailed in the petition. 

Keeping in view the fact that multiple authorities were concerned with the raising of the proposed construction and possibility of divergence in their views, the court on June 4, the matter had been directed to be brought to the notice of the Chief Secretary to consider the same.

Additional Advocate General M A Chashoo handed over a status report dated 2nd  July 2019 in court which is taken on record.

“It appears that the matter has been placed before the Chief Secretary on 28th June 2019 wherein a decision has been taken for reserving/converting/declaring an area as a “Strategic Area” for direct operational and training requirements of Armed Forces,” the court observed. “Certain  decisions have been detailed in the status report. It would appear that this decision is concerned  with the requirements of the army which may arise in the future.”

However, the court said, the matter which is under consideration in the petition does not appear to have placed for consideration in the meeting on 28th June 2019. “The decision dated June 28 though makes a reference to the instant petition in the heading, however, the matter of raising the construction of the Transit Camp on the site which is in the possession of the army and is being utilized as a Transit Camp has not been considered,” the court said. 

Army placed on record the progress of the matter for raising the construction of the Transit Camp and the several no objection certificates already received for the construction, the court said.

“The petition refers to the letter dated 29th October 2018 issued by the SDA requiring the petitioner to seek permission of this Court for raising construction,” the court observed, adding, “By our order dated 4th June 2019, we have directed in para 9 as under: It is made clear that the constructions shall be subject to inspections by the competent authority of the Sonamarg  Development  Authority. The objections which may be pointed out would be addressed  by the petitioner.”

In para 10 of 4 June order, the court said: “we had noted that the necessary documents stand submitted to BOCA.”

 With regard to deficiencies in the order, the court had directed in para 12 of the June 4 order: “Let the deficiencies be pointed out, and subject to the orders passed by us above, in view of the security of the Transit Camp, only such further documents would be submitted by the petitioner which do not put safety of the Transit Camp to risk.”

M Shamsi, ASGI, pointed out that despite passage of six months, BOCA has not moved at all in the matter. He pointed out that the petitioner has only two months left now before weather condition and the construction thereafter would be rendered impossible in the area.

“Keeping in view of the imperative need of the armed forces as well as the security of their personnel, it is evident that the matter brooks no further delay,” the court said and directed that “without prejudice to the rights and contentions of both sides, the (army) is permitted to raise construction of the Transit Camp at Sonamarg as has been proposed in the submission made to BOCA on 12th December 2018.”

The court gave “liberty” to BOCA and the Chief Town Planner, Kashmir to inspect the ongoing constructions and to point out any rectification(s) which are required to be undertaken by the army.

“The construction in terms of the present order shall be subject to further orders of this Court,” the court said and posted the matter on August 28.

 


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