Also remarks that relocation of people may be necessary for conservation
Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Thursday directed the government to use drones, still cameras and videography to digitally map all the existing structures in Pahalgam as has been done in and around the Dal Lake.
The court directed Chief Executive Officer of Pahalgam Development Authority and the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag to initiate the process and submit a report before the court.
Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta passed the direction after perusing the report filed by CEO Pahalgam Development Authority.
In the report it was stated that identification of various zones including the no-construction areas within wildlife zones has been effected.
The report said that 1500 structures have been identified in prohibited zones in the ground survey conducted by the Revenue Department, while mentioning that such structures existed prior to the Master Plan 2005-25 when there was no such demarcation of zones.
It was also stated in the report that it has been decided and consequently incorporated in the revised Master Plan vide Chapter VII-7.2(a) that no further construction shall be allowed in these areas.
The court was informed that there is no scheme for relocation or rehabilitation of people living in built-up areas/ hamlets existing within wildlife/ forest zones.
To this the court said, “In order to ensure that there is no illegal construction activity in Pahalgam, a digital blueprint of the existing structures and their surroundings requires to be prepared, which would include cadestial mapping, photography and videography.”
The court noted that in the report financial incapacity is stated as the reason for not undertaking relocation or rehabilitation of people living in the built-up areas/ hamlets existing within wildlife/ forest zones.
“But keeping in view the preservation and conservation of the fragile ecology and environment including forests and wildlife, this aspect cannot be compromised under any circumstances,” the court remarked.
The court said, “It is the sole responsibility of the government whose imperative duty lies in such conservation, to have the existing structures video-graphed/ photographed on the same lines as has been undertaken in Dal Lake area in Srinagar.”
The CEO, Pahalgam Development Authority, and the DC Anantnag were also directed to complete all proper digital documentation of the forest and wildlife areas clearly demarcating places where construction exists.
“We also direct that the videography of the forest and wildlife area shall also be undertaken by the aforesaid officers,” the court ordered.
It was also directed by the court that the record shall be put in the public domain and safely preserved both by the Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, as well as the Chief Executive Officer, Pahalgam Development Authority.
“A status report in this regard shall be filed before this court within six weeks from today,” the court directed.