Encroachments at Gulmarg a serious matter: High Court

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J&K High Court has directed the government to provide details of the state land and the forestland at Gulmarg as also the particulars of persons encroaching on it.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation seeking conservation of Gulmarg and its environs, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mital and Justice Puneet Gupta directed the Revenue and Forest departments to submit details of the state land and the forest land at Gulmarg respectively within two weeks.

The Court also sought the details of the land in actual possession of the state. The direction came after the Court’s perusal of a report filed by Divisional Forest Officer, Special Forest Division Tangmarg.

“We had noted that the respondents refer to encroachments of various forest land without giving any details of the same (sic). Some of these encroachments are by major hoteliers in the Gulmarg area,” the Court said.

It appears, the Court said, that valuable forest land has been encroached and the encroachments were being permitted to be perpetuated with impunity. “This is a serious matter which needs to be looked into.”

The Court also directed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) to proceed in accordance with law against all those persons who have violated the building permission.

Advocate Hakim Suhail drew the Court’s attention to the “contradiction” in the reports of the Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla, and the CEO, GDA. He pointed out that as per the report of the Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla there were 18 structures which have no lease at all. “Let these reports be placed before the newly constituted committee headed by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir who shall ensure that the matter is verified on the physical inspection and true position is placed before this court before the next date of hearing,” the Court said.