SRINAGAR: The high court on Friday asked the state government to ensure ecological safeguards at the famous tourist resort of Gulmarg by declaring the famed green bowl area as polythene and plastic free zone.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magray expressed concern over the fact that despite ban orders on use of polythene and plastic, no action is being taken against the violators.
“You have to wake up from slumber before it is too late,” Chief Justice remarked.
The court also directed state pollution control board to take immediate measures to correct the Gulmarg Master Plan Gulmarg. “The report shall be filed by SPCB and Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) whether any plastic is being used and, more importantly, discarded in Gulmarg area.”
The court directed both the authorities to ‘clearly indicate’ the manner of garbage and waste disposal in the status report to be filed within two weeks.
With regard to safety of tourists and other people, the state authorities informed the court that one medical doctor along-with a pharmacist has been posted at Afarwat.
The court asked the government to ensure appointment of a paramedic who can ensure first aid to injured persons should a medical emergency arise in the area.
The court has asked the Secretary Health and medical education department to remain present on the hearing but the official did not appear in person. The court asked issued instructions to the concerned official to be present on next hearing.
The division bench directed the managing director Jammu and Kashmir cable car corporation (JKCCC) ) to file the status report regarding the commercial project taken up by them. The counsel from the state informed the court that commercial operations project will be implemented only after going through safety measures. The cable car operations have been stalled in the area after an accident that resulted into death of seven persons including four members of a tourist family in a cable car last month.
With regard to Demarcation of forest area falling within the limits of GDA,the regional forest officer and DFO has done demarcation of the area except demarcation to pillars has not been carried yet. The court directed forest department to file status report regarding the same on next date of hearing.
The Regional Wildlife Warden was also directed to create a website under the banner Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary so that general public may be informed regarding the ‘flora and fauna’ of Gulmarg.
The PIL was filed in 2012 by one Mohammad Rafiq Zargar, seeking directions for protection of fragile environment of Gulmarg.