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HC seeks status report on parks and gardens in J&K

Post by Syed Rukaya on Saturday, January 7, 2023

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Srinagar, Jan 06: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh has directed the government authorities to furnish a status report indicating a follow up action that has been taken pursuant to the instructions issued by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir regarding the physical and financial progress of the parks for the financial year 2022-23 under their possession or maintenance.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on lack of parks and gardens in J&K, a division bench comprising Justices Sanjay Dhar and M.A Chowdhary also directed the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu to also file a status report on the next date of hearing in terms of order passed on September 19, 2022, while posting the matter for hearing on March 01.
On September 19, the court had asked the Divisional Commissioners of Jammu as well as Kashmir to hold quarterly meetings with all stakeholders and authorities responsible for developing and maintaining various parks including heritage gardens so as to coordinate their working and submit their independent reports within a period of two months.
The bench passed the directions after a status report filed by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir which was submitted before the court had asked all the stakeholders and concerned departments to submit the physical and financial progress of the parks for the financial year 2022-23 under their possession or maintenance within a weeks’ time.
The concerned departments were also directed to erect ramps on the entry points of all the parks so as to ensure an easy access for the specially abled persons.
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir had further asked all the concerned departments to submit the status report to the office of Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir for its onward submission before the High Court.
However, the Directorate of Floriculture, Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Srinagar Development Authority were asked to submit the requisite report before the High Court directly after proper vetting by the office of the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir.
The Divisional Commissioner also directed the Committee which was constituted by the government under the Chairmanship of Director Floriculture, to conduct the meeting periodically and submit quarterly Action Taken Report (ATR) to the authorities within time as well.
The bench after taking status report on record asked the counsels representing various government departments to file status reports indicating the follow up action that has been taken pursuant to the directions issued by the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir in a status report submitted before it in terms of order passed by the court on September 19, last year.
Previously, the court had also put a blanket ban on constructions besides prohibited use of plastic and plastic material in all the existing parks, open spaces and green spaces in Srinagar and Jammu.
The bench had further directed all the authorities maintaining those parks to see that no such plastic or plastic material is thrown in the parks or green spaces except in the dustbins which shall be cleared periodically.
In order to minimize illegal activities allegedly being carried out in some of the parks or open spaces, the court had asked the authorities to ensure that all boundary walls or reelings of the parks be kept transparent so that people from outside can have an eye on the activities inside.
It had further asked the authorities to take effective steps in accordance with law for the removal of all encroachments or unauthorized constructions from all parks and green spaces and ensure that no construction in the vicinity is raised without the proper permission/sanction of the map by the competent authority.
However, the bench allowed the authorities to undertake construction of sufficient washrooms and toilets at appropriate places to be earmarked by some expert in each of the parks and to construct proper pathways wherever feasible.
The PIL was registered after the court took cognizance of letters moved by Justice Rtd. Bilal Nazki, on May, 16, 2016 and July, 24, 2017 regarding lack of open or green space in the cities of Jammu and Srinagar especially Srinagar.
The letter stated that in cities of Delhi, Chandigarh and Gandhinagar, the green space per capita is 22 sq.mtrs, 55 sq.mtrs and 160 sq.mtrs respectively.
But in Jammu and Srinagar, it is dismal as the green space per capita is 1.86 sq.mtrs and 2.60 sq.mtrs respectively, as against the international standard laid down by the World Health Organization of minimum of 9 sq.mtrs per capita, it says.
The letter suggested to identify the areas in Srinagar which are completely lacking in parks or green spaces, identify and earmark the areas in each locality of Srinagar which can be developed into a park or green space.
It had also suggested to identify encroachments over parks and green spaces and to remove as such, avoid permissions for conversion of land use i.e., from conservation zones reserved for parks or green spaces or urban forests to residential or commercial use and to ensure adequate and proper regular maintenance of parks and green spaces in Srinagar.

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