HC directs Govt to file detailed fresh affidavits
Srinagar: The High Court has directed the government to file fresh affidavits, within six weeks, indicating in explicit terms the position of all the existing buildings in Gulmarg tourist area, the details of the unauthorized structures and the legal action taken against them.
Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul ordered the Divisional Commissioner Revenue, Chief Conservator of Forests, Director Tourism, Chief Executive Officer Gulmarg Development Authority and chairman BOCA, to clearly indicate “the position of all existing buildings in the area, the details of the buildings/structures which are unauthorized, the legal action, if any, taken against them and all other ancillary details on the subject, within a period of six weeks”.
Mohammed Raqfiq Zargar a former employee of the Revenue Department had in 2011 initiated a PIL concerning the illegal and unauthorized constructions being raised in Gulmarg and Tangmarg in violation of the Master Plan.
He prayed for direction for the demolition of all such unauthorized constructions so as to preserve the ecology and environment of the twin tourist places. He also sought a moratorium of 10 years or more on the construction activity in the area.
J&K High Court has fixed itself as Custodia Legis in the matter, meaning no other court or tribunal shall pass any order dealing with the subject matter concerning the PIL.
The Court in disposing of the petition directed the respondents to ensure that any constructions made in the two tourist places are in conformity with the Master Plan and does not in any way cause any degradation to the fragile ecology and environment of the place.
The directions also called for an end to future constructions in violation of the Master Plan.
It was also observed that if the respondents come across any illegal construction made in violation of the Master Plan, they shall take appropriate legal action against such persons.
The respondents were also directed to ensure that the ecology of the notified forest land is not disturbed and encroached upon under any circumstances.
The court today observed it is confining the matter to the reliefs claimed in the writ petition and examining it de novo “do not deem it necessary for the time being to have the assistance of any amicus curiae or of any commissioner or the committee”.
It relieved the amicus curiae and the commissioner(s) and dissolved the committees appointed from time to time to guide the court.
The court reiterated that its earlier directions stopping construction activities at Gulmarg and Tangmarg, shall remain in operation.
“If any person is found violating the same and continues with the construction activities his/her property shall be sealed forthwith and that no building or construction material shall be allowed to be transported in the area”, it directed.
It would be obligatory upon the Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, SSP, Baramulla and the Gulmarg Development Authority to ensure that no construction activities are carried out without the leave of the Court, it added.
The Court however do left it open for the concerned authorities to entertain applications for the repairs and constructions of the buildings in accordance with the law.
Rashid Paul is Associate Editor at Kashmir Images.
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