Rashid Paul

HC raps govt for ‘casual approach’ in saving tourist resorts

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Asks authorities to finalize EIA report, EIMP for Sonamarg

Srinagar, Apr 05: The High Court on Thursday expressed anguish over the “official apathy” on the worsening ecological situation of various tourist resorts of the state and directed the authorities to finalize the environment impact assessment (EIA) report and the environment impact management plan (EIMP) for Sonamarg.

Acting Chief Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice MK Hanjura came down heavily on the authorities for “their casual approach” in saving the tourist resorts of the state.

The court observed that the “grave situation” of the tourist circuit of the state has also compelled it to reopen a matter regarding the deteriorating condition of the tourist resort of Sonamarg.

The court impressed upon the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sonamarg Development Authority (SDA) to get the resort connected with geo-tagging, a process of adding geographical information to various media in the form of metadata.

Under a judicial intervention all the constructions in the Sonamarg area have already been banned. The orders were passed in a petition on illegal constructions on the banks of river Sindh, meandering through the Valley of Sonamarg.

The petition was filed by a local lawyer and the court “in wake of alarming condition of Sonamarg” treated the petition as suo moto proceedings so that the  resort is prevented from turning into a complete concrete jungle.

The court was informed by the state’s chief lawyer that the then CEO of SDA,  Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, had granted spree of permissions in the fragile ecosystem of the resort.

The court did take serious note of the reports of constructions in and around the tourist resort and sought complete geographical details from the concerned officials from the entire Sonamarg area, including its forests, wildlife and other zones.

The bench has also directed the government to submit a comprehensive report of the biodiversity in the wildlife area of Sonamarg.

Moreover, the court clubbed a petition seeking ban on construction of a high altitude Warfare School by Indian Army in Sonmarg with the last filed PIL.

In the petition, CEO SDA has submitted that the Army was constructing the Warfare School without any permission from Building Operation Control Authority Sonamarg and the Authority was not allowed to have an on-spot inspection of the “illegal construction” by the Army.

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