HC seeks appearance of 5 officials

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Aug 14: The High Court today sought personal appearance of various high ranking officials of Government including three Commissioner Secretaries on illegal constructions at Pahalgam and observed that the constructions be removed immediately.
The Division Bench Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice M K Hanjura directed the officials of Revenue, Tourism and Forest Departments to be present before the court on August 21.
Those who have been directed to remain present in the court included Secretary Tourism, Revenue and Forest Departments, Deputy Commissioner Anantnag and Chief Executive Officer of Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA).
The appearance of these officials has been sought when petitioner’s Counsel submitted before the Court that despite court directions, illegal constructions are being allowed in and around the prohibited area of Pahalgam. With these submissions, the court observed that these illegal constructions should be removed immediately.
Court has banned all constructions within two meters from Nallah Lidder and asked the Government to decide about the old constructions, which were already there as to whether these constructions will be relocated or not.
Court has been apprised that in the revised Master Plan of Pahalgam clarification of zones have been included as per court directions. The State counsel submitted that there is mention of construction and non-construction zones on either sides of the river. Besides that Forest area zone, wildlife area zone and boundaries of the Pahalgam resort have also been mentioned in the Master Plan.
It may be mentioned here that Government 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 it was not in tune with the directions and issues which are supposed to be dealt with. Court had also directed the authorities to file the detailed report in the matter in tune with the decision and recommendations of the expert committee.
It was proposed that in the revised Master Plan among other issues an action plan for solid waste management, sewage disposal and water supply be prepared for the entire local area of Pahalgam including the existing village settlements.
As such a committee was constituted by Government to prepare the revised draft Master Plan to incorporate suggestions of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) team which was constituted on directions of court.

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