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Will challenge tribunal orders legalising construction deviations at Sonamarg: Govt tells HC

The government on Tuesday informed the High Court that it has decided to challenge the J&K State Tribunal’s orders legalising huge constructional violations at Sonamarg health resort.

State’s deputy advocate general, Fayaz Ahmad Mir told a division bench of acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice D S Thakur that the government has decided to challenge the orders in High Court after observing that the Tribunal has compounded huge constructional deviations.

As soon as the Public Interest Litigation initiated by the court on its own motion for preservation of Sonamarg environs came up for hearing on Tuesday, amicus curie Nadeem Qadri told the court that huge constructional violations have been compounded by the Tribunal.

“In one of the cases a constructional deviation of 1200 sq feet has been caused by extending it to 56000 sq feet in violation of permission. It amply reflects the extent of violations in Sonmarg. Not only this, the height of these constructions been taken to impermissible limits,” the amicus said. He told the Bench that the Tribunal has imposed far less penalties on violators.

In response to the submission by the amicus, the state counsel told the court that in a meeting of BOCA held under the chairmanship of Chief Minister, it was decided that huge penalties should be imposed for these deviations. “But instead of paying the penalty, the violators approached the Tribunal and got the violations compounded,” he pleaded.

He said as soon as the violations were brought to the notice of Building Operation and Controlling Authority (BOCA), it issued notices to the violators. Disapproving the remiss to re-revisit the master plan for Sonamarg, the court asked the government to do it within three weeks. The state counsel however told the court that prior to revisiting the master plan, environment impact assessment report was required for which Kashmir University was consulted. “The KU has now submitted the report,” the counsel said.

Meanwhile the Court has granted three weeks to Sonamarg BOCA for considering the Army’s application seeking to carry out repairs of high altitude warfare School.

While assistant solicitor general Tahir Shamsi submitted that there was a lot of delay in granting approval for the repairs by the BOCA, the state counsel Fayaz Ahmad Mir said that the delay was caused as the Army did not allow the BOCA officers to visit the premises. “They have raised the construction illegally. BOCA has decided to consider the application and will take decision on it very soon,” said advocate Mir.

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