Pahalgam residents await implementation of revised master plan

Pahalgam residents await implementation of revised master plan

By ZIA-UL-HAQ/ SHAFAT MIR
ANANTNAG: The coalition government that cherishes to fulfill former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s vision is not taking any measure to implement the revised master plan in Pahalgam, approved by late Mufti in September 2015.
The approval had come five years after the high court imposed ban on the constructions in the tourist resort and its periphery. The locals had heaved a sigh of relief hoping the cabinet approval would allow them to carry out repairs in their damaged houses and commercial structures.
However, nothing has changed since the cabinet approved the revised master plan that still awaits implementation. Local residents told Kashmir Reader the implementation agencies are deliberately delaying to benefit some influential people.
“First the framing of master plan was delayed for five years to facilitate the completion of dozens of commercial structures owned by some rich people across Pahalgam. And now they are causing delay in the implementation of the new plan to benefit others,” a group of aggrieved citizens from the area told Kashmir Reader.
They say that in an attempt to help some people who claim ownership of the land in forest area, the authorities are causing delay in submitting the details before the court.
“There are over a dozen politically well-connected and rich people who claim to have been allotted plots in exchange during the feudal rule and want the area be designated as non-green. The authorities concerned are trying to find a way out to help them despite the forest department’s clear refusal to provide NOCs. The court has sought complete details of the areas along with Khasra numbers having been shown green and non-green from the tourism authorities which they are delaying,” said a local environmental activist, Mushtaq Pahalgami.
He said the authorities have made hostage the entire population of Pahalgam in an attempt to benefit few people.
In response to public interest litigation, the court in 2010 had banned all kinds of repairs and constructions viewing that the old master plan was completely flawed. Despite the ban dozens of structures came up in several areas falling within the jurisdiction of Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA). Former chief executive officer, PDA Mohammad Yusuf Bhat had sealed at least 28 commercial structures at the picturesque spot.
Locals say that it would turn out to be absurd if the revised master plan does not prevent vandalisation of the area.
“The court had ordered framing of new master plan to save the tourist spot from more vandalisation. We endured ban on repairs for the sake of environment but if the situation goes back to square one, what was the requirement of putting us to miseries. The court must take a serious note of what the authorities are doing and why they are causing delay in furnishing the details,” Zahoor Ahmad, a resident told Kashmir Reader.
Chief executive officer, PDA, Mushtaq Ahmad Simnani said that after the new master plan was framed the court has sought the Khasra no’s of the entire buffer zone having been designated as non-green. He said PDA owns jurisdiction of 16 villages and providing khasra numbers is a huge exercise.
“Another issue is of six villages falling in the wildlife zone. There are maters to be settled with the relevant department,” Simnani said.

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