Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Thursday said “financial incapacity” cited by the government for undertaking the relocation or rehabilitation of the built-up areas, hamlets existing within wildlife and forest zones in Pahalgam “cannot be compromised under any circumstances.”
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta it was the sole responsibility of the Government whose imperative duty lies in such conservation.
The observations by the court followed perusal of a status report filed by Mushtaq Ahmad Simnani, Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority, stating that identification of the various zones including the non-construction areas within wildlife zones has been effected.
He stated that 1500 structures have been identified in the prohibited zones in the ground survey conducted by the Revenue Department.
Simnani has stated that the 1500 structures which presently exist in the no construction zones were constructed prior to the Master Plan 2005-25 when there was no such demarcation of zones.
In the report, he said that it has been decided and consequently incorporated in the revised Master Plan vide Chapter VII- 7.2 (a) that no further construction shall be allowed in these areas.
The CEO said that there was no Scheme for relocation or rehabilitation of built-up areas and hamlets existing within wildlife and forest zones.
In order to ensure that there is no illegal construction activity in Pahalgam, the court observed that a digital blueprint of the existing structures and their surroundings requires to be prepared, which would include cadestial mapping, photography and videography.
“In the report financial incapacity is reported for undertaking the relocation or rehabilitation of the built-up areas / hamlets existing within wildlife / forest zones. But keeping in view the preservation and conservation of the fragile ecology and environment including forests and wildlife, this aspect cannot be compromised under any circumstances,” the court said, adding, “It is the sole responsibility of the Government whose imperative duty lies in such conservation, to have the existing structures video-graphed / photographed on the same lines as has been undertaken in Dal Lake area in Srinagar.”
The court has also directed that each building owner located in the forest, wild life areas shall submit the complete site plan of the existing construction with photographs to the Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority and the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag.
“The Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, and the Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority shall cause verification of the submissions by the owners; prepare a list of owners as well the locations, sizes of the plots and extent of construction on which the construction exists,” the court said.
The CEO Pahalgam Development Authority and the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, the court said shall initiate and submit a report to the Court for undertaking digital documentation including videography, the cadestial mapping photographs of all the existing structures via drones in Pahalgam on the same lines as had been done in and around the Dal Lake.
“The respondents shall complete all proper digital documentation, of the forest and wildlife areas clearly demarcating places where the construction exists,” the court said, adding, “We also direct that the videography of the forest and wildlife area shall also be undertaken by the aforesaid officers.”
The court also ordered that the record shall be put in the public domain and safely preserved both by the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, as well as the Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority.
“A status report in this regard shall be filed before this Court within six weeks from today,” the court said.
Regarding Solid Waste Management Bye-Laws, Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, filed a status report stating that all the Municipal Committees in District Anantnag including Municipal Council Anantnag have notified the Bye Laws.
“With regard to the Solid Waste Management Bye-laws, the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, shall file a status report with regard to the action taken for implementation of the Solid Waste Management Bye-laws and the details of fines which have been recovered in the process thereto,” the court said and ordered that such report shall be filed within eight weeks. (GNS)
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