HC bans fresh constructions in Pahalgam

Excelsior Correspondent
SRINAGAR, Oct 9:  The High Court today directed that no fresh constructions be allowed in Pahalgam and, if any, renovation or repair of structures in permissible areas is required that shall be strictly in accordance with Master Plan.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Alok Aradhe passed these directions while dealing with PIL about the protection of ecologically fragile environs of Pahalgam.
Court has already noted the statement of Advocate General that the existing structures in and around the resort would continue to  exist but no further construction would be permitted and only repair and renovation may be permitted  in respect of existing structures.
Court has made it clear that application for any kind of repair or renovation  be submitted to BOCA of PDA, thereafter they shall examine the applications on case to case basis and the permission, if any, would be granted strictly in tune with Master Plan.
Court also made clear that in so far as the permissible area is concerned, any construction would also be permitted but only in-terms of the MP and too by the BOCA. “Therefore there is no need to file application before this court. The application be filed before the BOCA”, court passed the direction after various residents of Pahalgam came with application seeking permission for repair or renovation of their old aged structures.
AG opposed these applications and submitted before the Court that for the said purpose BOCA is existing and is headed by concerned DC and they (residents) should approach the said authority through proper channel.
AG handed over  notification dated 12.7.2017 whereby the Government in exercise of Control of Building operation Authority 1988 has appointed the BOCA for Phalgam.
Court directed the authority to hold its first meeting to deal with all the pending application and any further application filed now or filed thereafter by or before October 23.
As regards to demarcation and identification of survey numbers AG submitted to the court that the said exercise would be completed within 10 days as 60 percent of demarcation has already been completed. Court at the request of AG granted 10 days time for complete demarcation of Phalgam area.
Court while reiterating its previous direction has also made it clear that all activities to be governed by the Master Plan and existing structures both in the forest areas and wild life areas as also in the buffer zone shall remain as it.
Court has also been informed that 6000 metric ton of solid waste were utilized for the purpose of converting of fertilizers and the said fertilizer were used in various parks of resort.
In the status report it is indicated that 560 metric ton of solid waste is generated every month. Court directed the PDA to inform as to how much solid waste is generated monthly & daily.
“From the report one gets the impression that the segregation and bio and non bio waste is also a matter of concern in Pahalgam and needs to be addressed”, Court said.
Court further added that the report indicated that 74 percent sold waste is generated from the Hotels and restaurants. “It appears to us that segregation at the source would be easier. This is particularly because hotels and restaurants are within the ambit of administration through various licensing measures. “We hope that the Solid Waste Management rules under the Environment Protection Act 1986 are implemented. With regard to treatment of Sewage the sewage treatment plant appeared to be within permissible limits”, read the order.
Court also observed to AG to ensure that officers are not transferred. Court  bserved to him that as and when the orders of the court are being implemented, officers are being transferred.
There is already a blanket ban on all constructions within 200 meters from Nallah Lidder and Government was asked to decide about the old constructions which were already there as to whether these constructions will be relocated or not.
The Government it may be mentioned here had finalized revised Master Plan of entire Pahalgam area which was based on the recommendations of the expert committee under the directions of the court and thereafter presented it before court to which some queries were raised like clarification with regard to wildlife zone, forest area, etc.
The inclusion of zones have been done only after the court rejected the status report of Tourism and Culture Department with the observation that the same is not in tune with the directions and issues which are supposed to be dealt with.