‘Compensatory’ conifer saplings planted by Pahalgam hotel have wilted, HC told

‘Compensatory’ conifer saplings planted by Pahalgam hotel have wilted, HC told
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HC appoints two lawyers to inspect, hotel to bear their expenses

Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Tuesday directed state authorities to place on record, within one week, a copy of the site plan showing mapping of places where 6,000 conifer saplings have been planted in Pahalgam by the Hotel Grand Mumtaz Resorts. The court also appointed two lawyers of the High Court to make an independent assessment of the saplings planted and submit their report within two weeks.
The court passed the direction after senior counsel Parvez Imroz informed the court that the saplings which were planted in Pahalgam have dried up, because they were not maintained or preserved properly.
The counsel pointed to the status report dated 08.04.2019 filed by the Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority, wherein it was stated that in 1st week of April, 2019, more than 6,000 conifer plants were planted in and around Pahalgam out of a total 7,500 conifer plants received from the Forest Department. It was further submitted that the remainder of the conifer plants will be planted in Aru Valley in Pahalgam after the melting of snow from snow-clad areas.
The counsel pleaded that though the saplings have been planted, they have all wilted due to lack of maintenance. The counsel called for an independent report to assess the condition of the saplings.
The court after hearing the counsel appointed two lawyers from the High Court as Commissioners to make an independent assessment of the planted saplings.
The court recorded that grievance has been expressed by counsel Imroz for an independent assessment of the fate of plantation carried out by Pahalgam Development Authority. “We, therefore, appoint Advocate Arifa Jan and Advocate Rizwan Ahmad Bhat as Local Commissioners in this matter. Official respondents shall ensure that the geographical mappings of the conifer trees on a site plan are made available to the Local Commissioners within one week from today. The Local Commissioners shall visit the spots marked on the site plan by the official respondents and submit a report to this Court with regard to correctness of the site plan as well as the condition/status of planted saplings,” the court directed.
The court also directed that the Local Commissioners shall be paid an amount of Rs 25,000 each by the Hotel Grand Mumtaz Resorts, Pahalgam.
“It shall be the responsibility of the Hotel Grand Mumtaz Resorts, Pahalgam, to ensure availability of appropriate conveyance. The actual secretarial expenses incurred by the Local Commissioners on photography, typing etc, which shall also be borne by Hotel Grand Mumtaz Resorts, Pahalgam. The fees shall be paid to the Local Commissioners within a period of one week from today. The Local Commissioners shall file their report within two weeks thereafter,” the court ordered.
Previously, Hotel Grand Mumtaz Resorts, Pahalgam, was directed to plant 7,500 saplings of coniferous trees after some trees were destroyed in the resort.
The court while noting the order dated 27th November, 2018, passed in the PIL No. 484/2010, said, “We have been informed by Zaffar Shah, Senior Advocate, who appeared for Hotel Grand Mumtaz Resorts, Pahalgam, by stating that certain saplings distributed by the Pahalgam Development Authority for plantation in and around Pahalgam have been received from the Forest Department. It was suggested that the plantation was a compensatory measure for the trees which were destructed.”