SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court on Monday directed the state government to submit a report on environmental assessment and environmental management plan for ‘golden meadow’ Sonamarg on the next date of hearing.
The court also directed the Earth Science Department, University of Kashmir, to file a status report on the Thajavas Glacier on the next date of hearing.
The court observed that meadows are disappearing and this is a cause of concern for everyone. Amicus curie Nadeem Qadri had submitted before the court that green meadows in Sonamarg have disappeared and unplanned development has led to this disaster.
He said that hotels have come up along the river Sindh and within the wildlife sanctuary. He further said that in the name of a mosque, 20 fresh structures have come up. He said there was no proper demarcation of wildlife reserves and forests, and that ponies and vehicular traffic is allowed into eco-fragile zones.
Taking note of this, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed the state to rethink on the issue of environment. “If you want to save yourself from disaster, you have to save environment,” Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed said.
The court directed that implementation of Wildlife Protection Act and Environment Protection Act should be done in letter and spirit. Doing this can solve half the problems, the court said.
The court asked that why vehicular traffic was being allowed into eco-fragile zones and directed state authorities to submit a report on this issue.
Senior Advocate Zaffar Shah submitted before the court that waste can be minimised if polythene is stopped from its original source.
Advocate Nadeem Qadri told the court, “Under Environment Protection Act 1987, there is a need for proper demarcation, proper pony tracks, developed trekking system, stoppage of vehicular traffic, and demarcation of Thajavas Glacier. We all need to stand for the environment and this can happen when there is implementation of the Act on ground.”
He added that during minus 5 degree temperatures at Sonamarg, the sewage treatment plants (STPs) stop functioning. He said there was a need for a common effluent treatment plant in the area that could work in sub-zero temperatures.
The court directed the amicus curie to get factual evidence and submit a fresh report on the next hearing.
Directions were also passed to the State Pollution Control Board to submit an updated report on water and air pollution in Sonamarg, besides the manner of treatment of effluents.
CEO Sonamarg and Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir were present in the court during the hearing.