SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High court on Tuesday disposed of a public interest litigation on injuries due to artillery firing and shell explosions at Tosa Maidan, saying all court directions have been complied with and there is nothing left in the matter.
Mohammad Altaf Khan representing the petitioners had said, “There is no detailed survey regarding the number of deaths or injuries which occurred in Tosa maidan due to artillery firing or unexploded shells.”
Justice MK Hanjura and Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar observed that the main issue in the litigation has been complied with. The state counsel in its response had said that the victims who had been identified had been already compensated and the Deputy Commissioner Budgam had further reported that he ordered a survey vide No. DCB/Relief/Tosa Maidan/2017/429-37 dated 27.07.2017 to find out the exact number of deaths/injuries on account of such explosions.
The court said, “In so far as the deaths or injuries in relation to Tosa Maidan firing range are concerned, it has to be verified by the Authority and the compensation determined in terms of SRO 183 dated 19.04.2017 and disburse the same promptly. The authorities shall hold an enquiry in the vicinity of Tosa Maidan Firing Range or in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Budgam, by giving proper intimation to the local public to come forward with their claims so that compensation in terms of Rules 32, 33 and 34(a) of the Rules of 1973 can be considered on the basis of merit and claim. Such exercise shall be concluded at an earliest, preferably within a period of six to twelve weeks.”
The petitioner advocate had also raised questions regarding the ecology of the area and had pleaded that Tosa-Maidan not be used as firing range.
Government advocate BA Dar informed the court that the army has already vacated the area and there is no firing range in the area, which has been handed over to Tourism Department for beautification.
The PIL was filed by Syed Lubna Qadri who had sought several directions for the government regarding Tosa Maidan, including a detailed survey to assess loss and damage to human life and the environment due to artillery firing exercises; ‘individual compensation’ to families of deceased and injured persons and owners of livestock; to find ways to replenish the ecology of the area and take steps to save the environment; to provide guidelines for firing ranges in accordance with the provisions contained in the Maneuvers Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938; and to de-notify the area with immediate effect.