Today: Jun 19, 2024

No constructions to be carried out in Sonamarg without court approval, rules HC

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court has subjected the go-ahead in constructions granted by the Building Operation Controlling Authority (BOCA) Sonamarg to the approval of the court.

A division bench hearing a PIL on the devastation of the Sonamarg resort made it clear that “no construction shall be raised in the Sonamarg Development Area (SDA) or any repairs to the existing buildings carried out unless the building permission granted by the BOCA Sonamarg and is approved by this court”.

The development followed the recommendation for construction of a hotel of an influential Kashmiri businessman Altaf Ahmad, son of Saifuddin, the owner of Taj Vivanta Srinagar, by the BOCA in the first week of this month, Advocate Nadeem Qadri, amicus curie, in the matter told this newspaper.

The BOCA had allowed the business family to construct the hotel 200 feet from the River Sindh bank while all constructions in 100 meters (328 feet) area from the river bank stand were banned by the High Court.

Qadri further informed that the permission in this high-profile case, even if okayed by the High Court, shall stand nullified.

In June 2022, the Supreme Court has put a moratorium on all types of constructions in one kilometer area of any wildlife sanctuary. The controversial recommendation falls within the prohibited area.

The High Court has also directed the Chief Executive Officer, SDA to submit the latest status report about all the construction activities presently going on within the SDA and the permissions thereof, if any granted, by the BOCA, Sonamarg.

“Copies of such permissions shall also be filed along with the status report,” it directed.

The court further directed that till the new Master Plan is finalized and published, all construction activities in the Sonamarg Development Area shall be strictly as per the Master Plan in vogue (Master Plan of Sonamarg 2005 to 2025).

It ordered that no construction shall be raised in the SDA or any repairs to the existing buildings carried out unless the building permission is granted by the BOCA Sonamarg and is approved by this court.

The court perused the affidavit filed by the Chief Executive Officer SDA, which states that the construction activity in the area is presently being regulated by the Master Plan of Sonamarg for the 2005 to 2025.

The new Master Plan for the 2025 to 2040 is under process with the Chief Town Planner, Kashmir, the affidavit explained.

At this point the division bench of the court, which heard the matter, said “we would like to know the progress made in this regard”.

Let the Chief Executive Officer, Sonamarg, as also the Chief Town Planner, Kashmir, file separate affidavits indicating the steps taken by them to finalize the Master Plan 2025 to 2040, it directed.