Rashid Paul

Encroachments at Sonamarg: Authorities seek time to file compliance report

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Srinagar: The government authorities Thursday sought time to file compliance on court observations that large-scale unauthorized constructions, expansions and encroachments are being made on public land in Sonamarg tourist resort under the guise of permissions.

Senior additional advocate generals B A Dar and M A Chashoo sought time for filing the compliance and status reports in terms of previous order by a division bench comprising Chief Justice Geeta Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta.

The bench in its preceding order had observed “under the shield of the permission obtained (by hoteliers), large scale unauthorized constructions, expansions and encroachments are being effected at the Sonamarg tourist resort”.

According to the court, most of these unauthorized constructions, expansions and encroachments are being sought and carried out by persons who have no right on the land at all.

The court directed that the response be filed within six weeks from today and status reports be submitted on quarterly basis.

The court noticed that in case after case in Sonamarg, applications are being made for building permissions. “On several occasions, the request is couched as a permission for renovation/repairs. On many occasions, we find the ruse of damage on account of snow or fire is put forth. Under the shield of the permission so obtained, large scale unauthorized constructions, expansions and encroachments are being effected,” it said.

It held that it is absolutely imperative to check this illegal activity as the unauthorized construction in this eco-fragile area is irreversibly damaging the environment.

The damage is such that it cannot be compensated monetarily. Not only the present populace, but the generations to come will have to pay the price for the environmental degradation, it observed.

It directed that all applications for sanction of building, construction, renovation and repairs in any building at Sonamarg “shall be accompanied by an affidavit by the applicant that he/she is not in illegal occupation/possession of any public land/forest land in the entire Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir as well as Ladakh.”

If the property is leased or licensed, then details of payments of the charges with copies of the receipts have to be furnished along with documents establishing legal right of ownership, title and occupancy over the land on which construction, repairs or renovation is proposed.

Certificate from the Deputy Commissioner and DFO concerned have to be furnished stating that the land is not public land or forest land.

The applicants are also supposed to provide video and photographs of the land, existing building (with full exterior and interior) as well as its relation to neighboring properties and buildings.

The concerned authorities according to the court directive shall at all times have full access to the property to undertake its inspection(s) while the work is underway and after it is completed.

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