HC chides GDA over not sealing illegal Tangmarg hotel

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has pulled up the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA), for not showing seriousness to comply with its directions of sealing of an illegal under-construction hotel in Tangmarg area of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
“Affidavit filed by Tufail Matoo (CEO, GDA), conceals many things than reveal anything,” a division bench headed by Chief Justice M M Kumar said.
“We are surprised to the averments (by the CEO) that Hotel Bakshi Tangmarg, by taking advantage of night hours, is undertaking construction, and the proprietor was not able to produce any sanction plan or building permission issued by the competent authority,” the bench said.
The affidavit, it said, doesn’t go beyond as “if CEO was not required to take any step thereafter.” “Instead of implementing the direction, the CEO has taken upon himself the task of displaying ignorance.”
In the report, the CEO stated that the photographs by the applicant, an advocate of the court, did not guide him in the proper location of the building.
“We are unable to appreciate the stance taken by CEO. The area of Tangmarg is not such huge where the identification of upcoming building could not be established,” the bench said, observing that the Khilafwarzi officer was under legal obligation to report any illegal construction which cannot remain concealed from the eyes of common man.
“We fail to understand how authorities could have failed to find out such construction,” the court added.
Faced with the situation advocate Mohsin Qadri, counsel for GDA, stated that he would take upon himself to ensure that directions issued by the court are complied with.
On last date of hearing, the court had directed Qadri to depute a responsible officer to find the status of construction.
“If such activity is going, then direction be issued to stop it. The structure has to be sealed by State Pollution Control Board with the help of concerned Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendent of Police,” the court had said.
Meanwhile, the division bench also directed government to assure that full protection shall be provided to the whistleblower, advocate Towheed Ahmad.
The direction was passed after Towheed told the court that he was receiving threatening calls from unidentified persons.
In this regard, the court asked Advocate General, M I Qadri, who was present in the court, to ensure safety of Towheed.
“Let the action taken report be filed,” the court said.