Srinagar, March 28: The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh imposed a blanket ban on carrying out fresh constructions within the peripheries of Sonamarg tourist resort.
The court directed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sonamarg to ensure that no fresh construction in the Sonamarg Development Area is carried out with or without permission.
"In case it is brought to our notice that any fresh construction with or without permission from the competent authority is raised, by anybody in the Sonamarg Development Area, the Chief Executive Officer, Sonamarg Development Authority (SDA) shall be personally responsible and shall be proceeded for contempt of this Court," the court said.
A division bench comprising Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Puneet Gupta directed the CEO to take immediate steps to stop all fresh constructions in the Sonamarg Development Area.
The court said that renovation and repairs permitted shall be carried out only after obtaining proper building permission from the Building Operation Controlling Authority (BOCA), Sonamarg, which was approved by the Court earlier.
The court passed the directions after noting that the order passed by it on October 12, 2020 wherein it was directed that in addition to the requirements made in the applicable law, all applications for sanction of building, construction, renovation and repairs in any building shall be accompanied by certain requirements, was mistaken as modification of order passed on August 22, 2017.
"Under the aforesaid misconception, applications started pouring in for raising new constructions, of course, after obtaining proper permission from the Court," the court said.
Perusing the orders passed by it from time to time, the bench said that the order dated August 22, 2017, stopping the fresh constructions in the Sonamarg Development Area, is still in operation and has not been lifted or vacated.
The court noted that the only modification that was made, was in terms of order passed on May 09, 2018, whereby the applicants and others were permitted to effect repairs and renovations only in existing structures, that too, after obtaining proper permission from BOCA.
"The order dated 22nd October, 2020, is thus required to be read along with order dated 09.05.2018, in that, what is envisaged in para 6, pertains only to effect repairs/renovations in the existing structures and the order dated 20.10.2022, cannot be construed to be a permission to raise fresh constructions in the Sonamarg Development Area," the bench made it clear.
Adding, "Even with regard to repairs and renovations in the existing structures in Sonamarg Development Area, this Court vide order dated 28th December, 2022, has clearly provided that the applicant would require building permission granted by the BOCA, Sonamarg and approved by this Court."
On October 22, 2020, the court took notice of the fact that many of the hoteliers and others under the shield of the permission obtained for repairs and renovations were raising large scale unauthorized constructions, expansions and even making encroachments.
It was also noticed by the court that some of the applicants were finding the "ruse" of damage on account of snow or fire etc.
Earlier on August 22, 2017, the court while taking cognizance of reports of indiscriminate and unauthorized constructions on Sonamarg initiated suo moto-action in public interest and directed that till further orders no construction activity shall be carried out in Sonamarg.