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Encroachments in Sonmarg: HC asks amicus curiae to file application

Post by Syed Rukaya on Friday, December 16, 2022

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Srinagar, Dec 15: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has asked amicus curiae to file a composite application on the issues of unabated constructions, receding of glaciers, encroachments in Sonmarg tourist resort and non-demarcation of river Sindh by or before December 22.
Hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) regarding preservation and protection of pristine glory of the Sonmarg tourist resort, a division bench comprising acting Chief Justice, Tashi Rabstan and Justice Rajesh Sekhri directed the amicus curiae, Nadeem Qadri to file the application by or before December 22, this year.
The court passed the direction after the amicus sought a week's time to file a composite application on the issues.
Previously, the court had directed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sonamarg Development Authority (SDA) to appear in person before it and explain his position for preservation of meadows and glaciers and the development work he intends to carry out at Sonamarg.
The bench had also directed the CEO to place on record the Master Plan of the Sonamarg and a vision plan for Sonamarg along with the affidavit indicating the development work so far done by the authority.
Apart from developmental works, the authorities were directed to come up with the demarcation of River Sindh and removal of encroachments and all other issues relating to the river viz illegal construction on the banks of the river Sindh.
The court had also sought information from the authorities with regard to removal of illegal construction which had come up on the banks of river Sindh.
The court had further directed the authorities to explore the possibility of using wooden fences, hedges and plantation of trees which are all environment friendly to demarcate the various meadows and the boundaries of the various properties instead of using steel and iron barricades or fencing.
In pursuance of the directions, the CEO SDA had filed an affidavit placing on record the master plan for the year 2005 to 2015.
It stated that the master plan for the year 2025 to 2040 is under process of being framed by the Chief Town Planner.
The court was informed by the SDA through a compliance report filed the Commissioner Secretary to Government, Revenue Department that the demarcation work on Sindh Nallah (river) in collaboration with the Irrigation and Flood Control Department has been completed and as per the demarcation about 258 kanals and 12.75 marlas of land of the Sindh River is under encroachment and in possession of unauthorized occupants.
The court had noted that the department is taking effective steps for retrieving the said land but what steps are proposed to be taken or have been taken had not been indicated.
"The manner in which the demarcation has been done and whether any boundary pillars have been erected or not has not been disclosed," it had recorded.
The bench had underscored that in the absence of such information, it is not worth believing that the demarcation process has been completed or that effective steps are being taken to retrieve the encroached land while directing SDA counsel to file a better affidavit regarding the matter.
The court also noted that the direction for the demarcation of the Sindh Nalla (river) has been passed in the year 2013 and the process is yet to be completed.

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