HC seeks detailed report: Despite cabinet nod, revised Pahalgam Master Plan conceals more than it reveals

SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court has sought a detailed report from the government within four weeks, answering its various queries on revised Master Plan for Pahalgam, one of Valley’s premier health resorts.
Based on recommendations by an expert committee, the revised master plan was approved by the cabinet under the chairmanship of then Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed on September 8, 2015.
The copy of the revised master plan was later placed before the high court which on September 16, 2015 sought detailed clarifications on a number of issues from the government.
Sixteen months later, the secretary to government tourism and culture department filed a status report before the court.
“On perusal of the report, we feel that the same does not deal with the issues that were required to be dealt with,” said a division bench of Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur and Janak Raj Kotwal while hearing a public interest litigation filed by Peoples Welfare Organization Pahalgam through advocate Parvez Imroz.
It directed for a detailed report to be filed within four weeks regarding the decision taken by the committee which the government says is dealing with the issues raised by the court.
The earlier approved Master Plan 2005-2025 of Pahalgam was revised on the directions of the High Court in 2011 amid its observations that it was flawed and prepared with malafide intentions. The revision was ordered so that basic facilities, development works and recreational avenues for the tourists could be created in a planned manner by adhering to strict procedural and environmental norms, as laid down in the Master Plan.
Talking to Kashmir Reader, advocate Imroz said that after revised Master Plan—2032 was finalized and placed before the high court, it sought clarifications regarding wildlife and forest areas besides Khasra no’s of the entire buffer zone having been designated as non-green.
After banning all the constructions within two hundred meters from nallah Lidder, he said, the court had asked government to decide about the old constructions which were already there prior to the blanket ban. “Whether they will be relocated or not, the government has to clarify as per court’s directions,” he said.
The government is also required, he said, to clarify about wildlife sanctuary and some villages on which both Phalagam Development Authority as well as wildlife department claims jurisdiction.
Pending implementation of the revised Master Plan, Imroz said local population is facing lot of hardships in carrying out repairs in their damaged houses.
Locals have time and again raised apprehensions that it would turn out to be absurd if the revised master plan does not prevent vandalisation of the area.