HC closes 3 PILs, including on Pahalgam ‘Illegal constructions’

It also directed that steps be taken to remove the illegal encroachments, if any, by following due process of law.
 J&K High Court, Srinagar
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has closed a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) on preservation of environs of world famous health resort Pahalgam, which was initiated more than a decade ago in the backdrop of alleged illegal constructions. It also closed two more PILs; one pertained to Jammu-Srinagar Highway and the other dumping of municipal solid waste near Tarzoo Sopore essentially polluting Wular Lake.

Closing the PIL filed by an NGO, Pahalgam Peoples Welfare Organisation, a division a bench Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice M A Chowdhary pointed out that petition essentially challenged the Master Plan 2005-2025 issued by the Pahalgam Development Authority on the ground that the same was against the interest of inhabitants of the area and not in public interest.

In response to the statement that the old Master Plan was no more in vogue and has been replaced by a new one, the Court closed the PIL with a direction to the authorities to ensure that the construction in the Pahalgam area is done strictly in accordance with the new Master Plan (2023).

It also directed that steps be taken to remove the illegal encroachments, if any, by following due process of law.

“So far as the renewal of the expired and subsisting leases are concerned, we are told that new Rules under the Land Grants Act, 1960 have been promulgated and those Rules shall govern all those matters/structures which were also raised during the course of this PIL,” the bench said.

The bench also closed the PIL it had initiated at the instance of Central Auqaf Committee Tarzoo and Dharnambal which had brought to its notice dumping municipal solid waste and bio-medical waste on the protected wetland (Ramsar wetland).

The dumping of the municipal solid waste on the Ramsar wetland, the PIL said, was not only affecting the Ramsar wetland but was also contributing to the pollution in the Wular Lake.

In compliance with Court’s directions, the Director, Urban Local Bodies Kashmir submitted that the authorities have taken several steps to deal with the issue and the solid waste and bio-medical waste is being collected and transported to the designated dumping site at Jetty Baramulla.

In response to this submission, the bench said: “….the proceedings in this Public Interest Litigation are closed with a direction to the respondents (authorities) to adhere to all relevant Rules and Regulations in the matter of preventing degradation of the environment in the Valley.” 

The court also closed the PIL by Civil Society Tral related to construction of Qazigund-Srinagar Highway and widening of Pantha Chowk Road.

While the court observed that in the status report earlier filed by the authorities) it was submitted that the construction work in question had been completed and the same was handed over to National Highway Authority of India,nit said: “From the reading of the status report and also having regard to the directions issued by this Court from time to time, we are satisfied that the purpose, for which, the present PIL was filed, has been accomplished and, therefore, there remains nothing in this PIL to proceed further”.

 The proceedings in this PIL, the court said, are, thus, closed leaving it open to the petitioner to make a specific grievance, if any, they have in respect of construction of any particular road in accordance with law.

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