The Division Bench of the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir comprising Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice M. K. Hanjura has chastised the authorities concerned on illegal constructions with special reference to the area of Dal Lake which was until only a few decades back, a pride of Kashmir for its pristine clear water and lush green vast area around. The Bench issued notice to Commissioner/Secretary of Tourism Department and various other authorities and Departmental Heads asking them to submit replies to the contents in the PIL
Obtaining a valid building permission for construction of buildings from the designated authorities and departments seems now to be optional looking to the increasing number of defaulters which can never be possible without the tacit approval or utter laxity shown by the concerned authorities who are otherwise mandated to reject and pull down such illegal constructions.
The Court was hearing a PIL wherein it is submitted that the authorities from Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Lake and Waterways Development Authority, Srinagar Municipal Committee and even the Cantonment Board have not asserted their positions but facilitated as many as 107 persons to either encroach upon the state land or construct structures thereupon without any valid building permission and other valid papers.
There must be routine checks in areas where reports pour in the concerned departments about such constructions and the “checking squads” must be verifying on the spot about land ownership , no objection certificate, permission for building, plans etc and deviations found out and acted accordingly. The fact of the matter is otherwise and no such desired penal action is taken by the authorities. The PIL has rightly desired the authorities to be asked to remove all encroachments by demolition of structures which are either on the stand land or are without the valid building permissions.
In another case of similar nature, The High Court has viewed seriously the cases of construction in and around tourist resort of Sonamarg. The same Division Bench has directed that no court including Special Tribunals shall pass any kind of order in cases pertaining to such constructions.
That there are various hotels constructed illegally or in contravention of the permissions, the court in view of the importance of the resort, passed these directions. The court had last year taken a suo- moto cognizance of the issue and directed authorities to ensure that no construction was carried out within the peripheries of Sonamarg Tourist Resort till further orders from the court.
It seems strange that some vested interests to earn money show least concern for the tourist resorts even which are a source of tourist attraction and a source of livelihood of many people .Tourists visit with a purpose and so far as Sonamarg is concerned, come to see its beauty and natural look rather than haphazardly erected structures to make fast buck by a few .Such illegal constructions should never be allowed with intent to preserve our natural heritage. There should be a public awareness as to how these priceless natural resorts could be spared from the scourge of erecting concrete jungles and save them from becoming a mess of pollution, illegal structures and other ways of damaging its natural attraction.