High Court pulls up Gulmarg Development Authority

The High Court on Thursday called for putting in place a mechanism to ensure that different companies, whose products lead to pollution at the ski resort of Gulmarg, contribute towards waste management.

While hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to preserve environment of Gulmarg, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar directed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) Hanief Balki to identify and call upon the companies contributing towards pollution for evolving the mechanism.

The Court said the CEO may join the Secretary of the District State Legal Services Authority in the conceptualization of the programme as well as its subsequent implementation.

The direction came after the CEO informed the Court that a large percentage of solid waste generated at Gulmarg was wrappers and containers of junk foods, biscuits, snacks and soft drink cans, manufactured by multinational companies.

These wrappers as well as containers, Balki said, were made from non-biodegradable material including metal, aluminum foil and plastics.  “The other large component of solid waste generated is plastic waste that comes from the plastic bottles used to market water and soft drinks,” Balki told the Court. “These products are manufactured by large companies including multi-national companies,” he said.      Following these submissions, the Court sought to devise a mechanism so that the companies could contribute towards waste management. 

Keeping in view the well-established principle of environmental jurisprudence “the polluter pays” principle for the cost of the environmental degradation, the Court observed, adding it sees no reason why the companies would not contribute to the waste management.  “We see no reason as to why the manufacturers of these items which are packed in polluting material do not contribute to the reduction of the solid wastes in the health resort as well as the management of the solid waste, which is generated,” the bench said. 

For this purpose, the Court held that there was no reason as to why all these companies should not be called upon to utilize the statutory mandated Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), allocations towards reduction of pollution which is being generated in Kashmir because of their activity.

Meanwhile, the Court directed the GDA to place before it the “Disability Audit”, of the area before August 14, the next date of hearing.