HC permits Army to raise transit camp at Sonamarg

HC permits Army to raise transit camp at Sonamarg

SRINAGAR: The J&K High court on Thursday permitted Army to raise permanent constructions at a transit camp at Sonamarg.
The court passed the direction after Assistant Solicitor General of India (ASGI) Tahir Majid Shamsi pointed out that despite passing six months, BOCA has not moved at all on the matter. He pointed out that the petitioner has only two months left for constructions because of weather conditions, which make any works thereafter impossible in the area.
The court said that in view of the “imperative need” of the armed forces as well as the security of their personnel, the matter “brooks no further delay”.
The division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar directed that the petitioner (army) is permitted to raise construction of the transit camp at Sonamarg “as proposed in the submission made to BOCA on 12th December 2018”.
However, the BOCA and the Chief Town Planner, Kashmir can inspect the constructions and point out any rectification(s) required. The construction shall be subject to further orders of the court.
In its writ petition, the Army had submitted that since 1998, a Transit Camp has been operational in Sonamarg which remains functional from mid-April to mid-December and relocate during winter season i.e. mid-December to mid-April in view of weather conditions.
Stating that the existing infrastructure was inadequate to house the staff in transits, it said that raising permanent housing structure was necessary.
The court had last month directed that because of multiple authorities involved in the permission process, the matter be brought to the notice of the Chief Secretary. The state counsel M A Chashoo handed over a status report dated 2nd July 2019 which was taken on record.
The court said, “It appears that the matter has been placed before the Chief Secretary on 28th June 2019 wherein a decision has been taken for reserving/converting/declaring an area as a “Strategic Area” for direct operational and training requirements of Armed Forces. Certain decisions have been detailed in the status report. It would appear that this decision is concerned with the requirements of the army which may arise in the future.”
However, the court noted that the matter which is under consideration in the writ petition does not appear to have placed for consideration in the meeting on 28th June 2019.
“The decision dated 28th June 2019 though makes a reference to the instant writ petition in the heading, however, the matter of raising the construction of the Transit Camp on the site which is in the possession of the army and is being utilized as a Transit Camp has not been considered,” the court said.
The petitioner stated that they have already placed on record the progress of the matter for raising the construction of the Transit Camp and the several no objection certificates already received for the construction.
The petitioner referred to a letter dated 29th October 2018 issued by the Srinagar Development Authority requiring the petitioner to seek permission of this Court for raising construction.
The court referred to its June 4 order, pointing out that the constructions shall be subject to inspections by the competent authority of the Sonamarg Development Authority. The objections which may be pointed out would be addressed by the petitioner.
With regard to deficiencies, the court again referred to its earlier order:
“Let the deficiencies be pointed out, and subject to the orders passed by us above, in view of the security of the Transit Camp, only such further documents would be submitted by the petitioners which do not put safety of the Transit Camp to risk.”
The court will hear the matter again on August 28.