Rashid Paul

HC raps GDA for not freeing occupied land at Gulmarg

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‘Even after expiry of lease, hundreds of kanals still under illegal possession of lessees’

Srinagar, Feb 13: Expressing discontent over the indecisiveness by Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) on occupation of leased land in the resort by the hoteliers despite its expiry, the High Court today directed the authorities to take decision in the matter by the next date of hearing.

Taking serious view of the faltering attitude of GDA on the issue, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjeev Kumar granted one more opportunity to the concerned authorities to take the decision on the hotels and other structures whose leases have expired and the public property continues to be under their occupation.

The bench observed that the issue is of serious nature as the government assets worth crores of rupees are being “squandered” by the (GDA) by not taking care of it.

According to sources, the lease of most of the hotels in the Gulmarg area has expired and that the hoteliers are in illegal possession of the government land.

Although notices have also been issued to the lessees, but political and bureaucratic intervention has prevented further action, say the sources.

The High Court has already directed the GDA to “strictly adhere to the procedures of land lease in the ski resort so that no land is illegally occupied there.

A division bench of the High Court in an earlier hearing on the issue has also observed that there are persons who have no allotment of land in their favor but are still in possession of hundreds of kanals of land without any authority of law.

There are a fair number of instances where a small portion of land in Gulmarg was allotted on lease to a lessee but under the very nose of the GDA they encroached upon the adjacent land.

Thousands of kanals of public land and is in illegal possession of these occupants, said an official.

Although the court did observe that public property is held in public trust by the respondents (officials) and has to be dealt with in a non-arbitrary and transparent manner ensuring that public interest is best served, but the actual position is quite contrary on the ground, said an activist watching the Public Interest litigation about the devastation of the delicate bionetwork of Gulmarg.

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