Only courts can save Gulmarg
The encroachments and violations of all rules and regulations by some people who claim to be highly connected have done lot of damage to the Valley’s prime tourist destination Gulmarg.
Gulmarg has suffered lot of damage to its fragile environs as the place has witnessed massive vandalism by those who have been exploiting the place for decades now. The issue of restoring the tourist destination to its prime has not directly taken up by the High Court as it has directed the government to take some serious measures.
On Wednesday the court ordered the government to produce a copy of the Gulmarg Master Plan before it after it is approved by the government. The HC move came after it was informed that the Gulmarg Master Plan has been prepared. The division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Alok Aradhe directed a copy of it to be produced before the court after the government approves it.
The court is presently hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on preserving the natural beauty of Gulmarg and help it restore the pristine beauty the place was once famous for.
The PIL was filed after a few persons grabbed huge chunks of land in and around Ski resort area of Gulmarg and this has been going on for decades now. The State High Court has, in this connection has already given a significant direction to observe all the existing provisions and procedures of land lease.
The Division Bench of the HC had earlier also observed that there were people who have no allotment of land in their favour and were in possession of hundreds of kanals of land without any authority of law. The other category of persons who were allotted a small portion of land had encroached upon hundreds of kanals of land which needed to be addressed.
However, while dismissing a petition filed by owner of Hotel Nedous at Gulmarg seeking renewal of nearly 99 kanals of lease land, the court made the issue very clear. The Hotel was given the land only for 20 years which had expired in 1985 and despite that, it had encroached upon the State land in utter violation of the law.
Court held that since the lease of land to Hotel Nedous had expired and was conflicting with Master Plan, it had therefore to be dismantled. It further observed that valuable public property could not be taken only on the premise that someone had grabbed it for decades.
Public property is a valued asset and therefore, the court has rightly directed State authorities to file details of all those cases where land had to be given on lease and which simultaneously had expired.
The court directions should act as a last warning for those who have been taking the issues of environmental concerns lightly and have been taking the violations as for granted. Saving Gulmarg is a prime concern for every right thinking person of the region no matter how deeply connected or powerful the people may be who have taken a lead in defacing this piece of land.