Rashid Paul

HC allows Army to construct Transit Camp in Sonamarg

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Srinagar, Jul 04: After banning all types of constructions in Sonamarg in 2017, the J&K High Court Thursday permitted the Army to raise construction for a Transit Camp in the ecologically fragile tourist resort of central Kashmir.

“Without prejudice to the rights and contentions of both sides, the petitioner (Indian Army) is permitted to raise construction of the Transit Camp at Sonamarg as has been proposed in the submission made to Building Operations Controlling Authority (BOCA) on 12th December 2018,” directed the court.

The court asked the BOCA and the Chief Town Planner Kashmir to inspect the ongoing constructions of the Army in the area and point out any rectification(s) which are required to be undertaken.

In a petition, the Army had submitted that the existing infrastructure of its Transit Camp is inadequate to house its staff. “It is proposed to reconstruct and improve the existing infrastructure by raising the necessary permanent housing structure,” said the petitioner.

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 High Court by its order dated 4th June 2019, directed the matter to be brought to the notice of the Chief Secretary of the state.

The Chief Secretary in an order reserved, converted and declared an area as a “Strategic Area” for direct operational and training requirements of Armed Forces.

The Assistant Solicitor General of India pointed out to the court that despite passage of six months, BOCA has not moved at all in the matter. He said the Army has only two months left now before unfavorable weather conditions set in the area in which constructions are rendered impossible.

“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,” said the court adding on a consideration of the entirety of the matter, “we have no option but to direct that the petitioner Army is permitted to raise construction of the Transit Camp at Sonamarg.”

In order to prevent destruction of the serene environs of Sonamarg, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had in 2017 banned all constructions at the tourist resort in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

“We have noticed that constructions are taking place in Sonmarg. We direct that no construction shall be carried till further orders,” a division bench of the court said while hearing a Public Interest Litigation relating to illegal constructions on the banks of River Sindh in the area.

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