Court calls non-complying officials to account over continuing environmental degradation in Pahalgam

Court calls non-complying officials to account over continuing environmental degradation in Pahalgam
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Srinagar: Annoyed at continued non-compliance with court directions and the absence of state officials during the hearing pertaining to Pahalgam health resort, the high court on Wednesday pulled up the state authorities on the absence of a regulatory mechanism in the area.
The court directed the commissioner cum secretary to the government, law department, to make arrangement for representation of respondents on Thursday and said all concerned officials should be present in the court with the compliance report.
The direction was passed to Chief Town Planner, deputy commissioner Anantnag, Chairman Pollution Control Board and Regional Wildlife Warden.
In a terse remark, the high court observed that it is unfortunate that state government officials are not responding to court directions and have taken the liberty to avoid being present. This court can pass strict directions in case compliance report is not filed on Thursday.
Hearing the PIL on Pahalgam, the division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey remarked that primary importance has to be given to the environment and concerned officers have to explain the perpetual environmental degradation in Kashmir.
“The court cannot take this issue lightly as environmental degradation is biggest threat to human/animal existence,” Justice Magrey said.
On previous hearing, court had sought a detailed report with regard to issues like clarity on wildlife zone and forest area of the revised Master Plan and had directed the wildlife and forest departments to come up with a detailed report on the next hearing.
Referring to the order of October 24, 2017, the division bench observed that the status report filed in terms of the said order does not deal with issues that were required to be dealt with and directed the state to revive the Master Plan properly. After finalising the revised Master Plan based on the recommendations of the expert committee, the government had presented it before the High Court, which had 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 mala fide intentions.

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