Two hotels face action for encroachment on forest land
Srinagar: “Declare whether 5190 Kanals and 05 Marlas of forest land is to be included in Gulmarg bowl or the land needs to be transferred to the designated wildlife area,” the J&K High Court asked the Chief Secretary on Thursday.
The court passed the direction after Showkat Ahmad Kuthoo, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Special Forest Division Tangmarg, stated that 27 Khasras comprising 5190 Kanals and 05 Marlas is required to be either included in the Gulmarg Bowl or a government order is required to transfer them as demarcated Forest Land (Maqbooza-Janglat) falling under designated wildlife area.
The court was informed by Additional Advocate General (AAG) BA Dar that the boundary pillars have not been installed on account of dispute being raised by the revenue authorities for the reason that first the declaration of the Forest Land as Maqbooza-Janglat is necessary.
To this, Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta said, “Let this matter be brought before the Chief Secretary who shall ensure that this issue is resolved at the earliest and a report be placed before us with regard to declaration of the forest land before the next date of hearing.”
Meantime, the report by DFO also stated that the Hotel Khyber Resorts and Hotel Castle has encroached on 20 Marlas of forest land. It was informed that notices have already been served to these encroachers.
The court after hearing this said that such encroachments of the forest land would be in the teeth of law laid down by the Supreme Court of India in T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India and others (1997) 2 SCC 267.
“A direction is issued to the owners of Hotel Khyber Resorts and Hotel Castle to forthwith remove their encroachments of forest land. We make it clear that this direction is without prejudice to all the consequences which flow against these encroachers under all applicable laws,” the court directed.
The Forest Department was also directed to examine the response and take action against the illegal and unauthorised constructions.
A report in this regard was also filed by the Court Commissioner. The court after perusing the report said that the matters reported are of serious encroachments and illegal constructions as well as destruction of trees in the Gulmarg area.
“Let copy of the application be furnished by the Registry to both counsel for the respondents within one day from today and the reply shall be within three days thereafter,” the court directed.
Liberty was also given to senior counsel RA Jan and to all the property owners to file response, if any, with documentary proof in support of their contentions before the next date of hearing.