Srinagar- The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has asked the government to file “without fail” response to a Public Interest Litigation alleging that various forest areas have been indiscriminately encroached upon and used for commercial purposes in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Response has not been filed. Let the same be filed without fail, considering the importance of the issues raised, as it has been alleged that various forest areas have been indiscriminately encroached upon and used for commercial purposes,” a division bench of Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi said. The court has directed the government to file the response by or before November 15.
The order by the court comes nearly a fortnight after it granted four weeks time to CBI to inform it whether the sanction has been granted from the concerned authority for filing the charge sheet, if not and assign the reasons there for if it is not filed regarding illegal constructions at Patnitop.
On December 31, 2019, the court had directed Director Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct in-depth enquiry into encroachment on forest land and other public land; illegal change of use and misuse of the land in violation of the permitted user; raising of illegal constructions; failure of the authorities to take action and fix the responsibility.
Closes PIL On Parks
Earlier J&K and Ladakh High Court closed a Public Interest Litigation pertaining to lack of green space and parks especially in twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu.
“…this Court is …satisfied that the authorities are doing the needful for maintenance and preservation of the green space and parks,” a Division Bench of Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice Moksha Khajuria Kazmi said while closing the PIL initiated in 2017.
“We are of the view that it may not be necessary for us to monitor the same at this stage and accordingly, the present PIL is closed with the above observations,” the court said, adding, “However, it goes without saying that if the authorities do not continue with or fail to maintain and preserve the green space and parks, liberty is granted to the petitioner for reactivation of the PIL.”
The court’s orders followed perusal of status reports filed by the authorities, highlight the various measures taken to maintain and preserve parks and gardens in and around the city of Srinagar as well as in Jammu
The authorities submitted that they successfully completed the Tulip Show with the concerted efforts of various wings of administration. The Tulip garden, they said, has earned a prestigious spot in the World Book of Records (London). “This has been a monumental recognition of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir hailing the Tulip garden as Asia’s largest tulip paradise, adorned with 1.5 million tulip bulbs,” they said.
They also submitted that four Mughal Gardens namely Nishat, Shalimar, Cheshmashahi and Pari Mahal have been placed in the tentative list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. They said that a pilot project has been undertaken by the department of Floriculture and JSWF (a public charitable trust) wherein a Memorandum of Understanding has been signed on 28 July 2021 for a collaborative partnership for the conservation and maintenance work at the select sites of Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh.
Similarly, Director Floriculture submitted that the department is presently maintaining 64 Parks and Gardens in the Jammu Division having an area of 1898.74 Kanals. The Director said single use plastic and other plastic material has been strictly prohibited in all the existing parks and Gardens maintained by the Department. “All the existing Parks & Gardens maintained by the Department have been provided with Grill fencing so that no vision is obstructed from the outside,” the Director said, adding, “There is no encroachment in any of the parks/Gardens maintained by the Department as per the report of the field officers.”
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