HC orders demolition of illegal structures in Pahalgam

HC orders demolition of illegal structures in Pahalgam
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Division bench expresses dismay over Kashmir turning into a dumping zone

SRINAGAR: The high court on Monday asked the state authorities to demolish all the illegal structures in Pahalgam health resort and expressed displeasure on absence of regulatory mechanism in the area.
In a terse remark the high court observed that ‘everybody’ is making Kashmir a dumping zone. The court issued directions to the secretary tourism, chief executive officer Pahalgam, chief town planner, Pahalgam development authority, secretary revenue department, forest department and advocate general to be present before on next hearing of the case on August 21 to explain the queries on perpetual environmental degradation in Kashmir.
The petitioner counsel informed the court that around 1600 illegal constructions have come up in Pahalgam and trees have been chopped off for clearing the land that has created serious environmental issues. He also informed the court that plastic bottles and plastic bags were flowing with fresh water in nullahs and regretted that the state administration was unable to address these issues.
“The failure continues. There is no regulation in place on constructions. Some officials are corrupt. The state must constitute a team to seek proper reports,” advocate Zaffar Shah said in the court.
Hearing the PIL filed by Peoples Welfare Organization, Pahalgam, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice MK Hanjura observed that the state has failed in implementing court orders and the report submitted by the authorities was inaccurate. “If the 1600 constructions are illegal, demolish them. They are illegal if they stand there from times immemorial, the court said.
“You are ruining the state. You are destroying it. Why the government is not doing its job”, Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed said.
The court also sought detailed report on queries it had earlier raised with regard to issues like clarity on wildlife zone and forest area of revised Master Plan and directed wildlife and forest department to come up with detailed report on next hearing.
Referring to the order of September 16, 2015, the division bench observed that the status report filed in terms of the said order does not deal with the issues that were required to be dealt with and directed the state to revive the Master Plan properly.
After finalizing the revised Master Plan based on the recommendations of the expert committee, the government had presented it before High Court which sought clarifications on areas like wildlife zone and the forest area.
The revised Master Plan also proposes that an action plan for solid waste management, sewage disposal and water supply be prepared for the entire local area of Pahalgam Development Authority including the existing village settlements.
In 2011, the Court directed the authorities to revise Master Plan (2005-2025) after observing that the earlier one was flawed and prepared with malafide intentions.

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