Allow constructions in Sonamarg only if applicant has no illegal land: HC to Govt

The High Court has directed that all applications seeking sanction for construction or repairs of any building in Sonamarg should be accompanied by an affidavit indicating that the applicant is not in illegal occupation of any public or forest land.

While hearing on its own motion a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta directed that all applications for sanction of building construction, renovation or repairs in any building shall be accompanied by such an affidavit.

The court has put these conditions for permissions in addition to the requirements made in the applicable law.

The court held that if the property is leased or licensed, then details of payment(s) of the charges with copies of the receipts be furnished. The applications, the court said, should also be accompanied by self authenticated copies of all documents establishing legal right of ownership, title and occupancy over the land on which construction, repairs or renovation is proposed.

While the court held that the application should be accompanied by a certificate from the Deputy Commissioner and DFO concerned that the land is not public or forest land, it said a copy of original sanctioned plan with all documents of original sanction, previous permissions for additions, repairs and renovation should also be presented.

The application should also be accompanied by details like videography, photographs of the land, existing building (exterior and interior) as well as details in relation to neighbouring buildings.

The Court said the application should also be with complete details (including exact location) of what is proposed to be undertaken which shall also be plotted on a site plan.

“If such a request is favourably considered, then on completion of the work, completed site plan with colour marking of work undertaken, videography and photos of the completed work will be submitted.”

While the court said the concerned authorities shall at all times have full access to the property to undertake its inspections while the work is underway and after it is completed, it said in no case will permission be granted to persons having no right, title or interest to occupy the land in question.

The Court issued the directions after observing that under the shield of the permissions obtained, large scale unauthorised constructions, expansions and encroachments are being effected.

Most of  the permissions, the court said, are being sought and carried out by persons who have no right in the lands at all. “It is absolutely imperative to check this illegal activity as the unauthorized construction in this eco-fragile area is irreversibly damaging the environment,” the court said.

Meanwhile the court directed Chief Executive Officer, Sonamarg Development Authority and Housing and Urban Development Department to place before it the action taken reports pursuant to the implementation of the Solid Waste Management By Laws and details of fines which have been recovered under its provisions.

Such reports, the court said, be filed on quarterly basis and the first such report shall be positively filed within four weeks from the date of its order.

Meanwhile J&K’s Housing and Urban Development Department informed the court that the respondents have already notified the Jammu and Kashmir Model Solid Waste Management By Laws, 2019 in two Corporations and 76 Urban Local Bodies in J&K.

The court has recalled its order dated 8-10-2020 and waived off the costs of Rs 25000 it had imposed on Urban Development Department for not complying with its directions on notification of solid waste management by laws.

The division bench recalled the order while considering an application moved by the department in this regard.