BDO illegally gives building permission to Punjab resident in SDA area

CEO Sonamarg transferred week after seeking ACB inquiry

Fayaz Bukhari
SRINAGAR, May 24: The Block Development Officer (BDO) Gund in Sonamarg area of Ganderbal district has issued building permission illegally to a Punjab resident in violation of High Court orders and against Sonamarg Masterplan.

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As the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Farooq Ahmad Baba, of Sonamarg Development Authority (SDA) sought enquiry against BDO for illegal act, the Government transferred him. Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, Gulzar Ahmad has been given additional charge of the CEO SDA.
The CEO last week wrote a letter (CEO/SDA/2024/484-85 dated 17-05-2024) to Director Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) seeking inquiry against illegal building permission given by the BDO Gund to 2nd storey of a residential house Charanpreet Singh Grewal son of Gurender Singh Grewal resident of Model town, Ludhiana, Punjab.
The permission was granted to Grewal Vide order No: PYT/ SM/ 19 dated: 22-02-2024 for construction of 2nd storey of residential house on a piece of land owned by him in the halqa Panchayat Sonamarg-A.
However, the BDO gave permission for construction of 2nd floor of the non-existent building beyond his competence and against HC directions.
“The BDO Gund has issued the said permission beyond his jurisdiction and competence and as per the present ground situation no ground floor has been constructed in the above-mentioned piece of land,” read the letter of the CEO SDA.
The building permission was granted to Grewal despite the High Court order (dated 27-03-2023) banning any sort of construction in the SDA area.
It may be mentioned here that as per the DEERS report, the built-up area of Sonamarg tourist resort was over 78 hectares much above the threshold of 50 hectares as per the Master Plan 2005-25.
In order to facilitate construction of more hotels and other infrastructure in the eco-fragile tourist report against the findings of the DEERS report and Supreme Court guidelines, the Chairman of BOCA for SDA last year formed a committee which tried to falsify the DEERS report.
A report prepared on the basis of Satellite imagery as sought by the High Court has given credence to the DEERS report that built up area in Sonamarg has crossed the permissible limit and falsified the claims of the BOCA.
The then CEO SDA, Mushtaq Ahmad Rather, in an affidavit before the High Court in February last year had also made it clear that no fresh constructions can be allowed in eco-fragile Sonamarg.