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J&K HC seeks details of unauthorized occupation of govt, forest land in Pahalgam

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Srinagar: Taking cognizance of the encroachment of forest and state land at Pahalgam tourist resort, the High Court has directed the authorities to apprise it of the details of unauthorized occupants and the action taken, if any, to retrieve the land.

Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on the challenges facing the biodiversity of this important place on the tourist circuit of Kashmir, the court directed the Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) and the Forest Department to apprise it “about the details of unauthorized occupant(s) and encroachment of the Government land and the Forest land in Pahalgam”.

In case any legal action has been taken, “details of the same shall also be placed on record”, directed the court.

The details are supposed to be filed in tabulations under the signature of the Chief Executive Officer, PDA. The officer has been directed to certify veracity of the submitted documents.

In addition, the court directed “the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, shall cause a verification undertaken of Pahalgam and submit case-wise full details of the encroachments in the area”.

The report has to be filed before the 25th of August, 2020 after giving advance copy to the Registrar Judicial of the court.

The officer has also been directed to submit a report giving a list setting out the details of the panchayats and local bodies where the solid waste management bylaws have been notified.

The court recapped its series of orders in the PIL and directed the PDA and the Forest Department to place on record the complete details of the state and forest land in Pahalgam; and the leases granted in the area.

The authorities have been asked to specify the dates of all leases, extent of land granted and whether the leases are subsisting or have expired. Basis and amount of the details of leases and license fees have also been directed to be specified.

The matter has been posted for further hearing on 25th of August, 2020.

Witnessing an extensive tourist footfall, Pahalgam has for years attracted the attention of a powerful land mafia allegedly including businesses, politicians, bureaucrats, and police officials. The oligarchy have converted it into a concrete jungle and defaced this once perfect ecological unit of Kashmir.

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