Commercial Building At Rajbagh: HC Appoints Expert On Permissibility, Impact On Environment

Srinagar, Dec 10: Observing that environmental concerns cannot be ignored or compromised in any manner, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has appointed a Delhi-based expert on the permissibility of the multi-storey commercial building which is coming up between 10 to 15 feet from the banks of the River Jhelum in Rajbagh area here.

“In eco-fragile territories as that of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, environmental concerns cannot be ignored or compromised in any manner. River Jhelum is an essential natural feature in the Valley and its protection and preservation has to remain of primary and utmost concern,” said a division of the court said while hearing a petition.

“We hereby appoint Ms. Sunita Narain, Director General, Centre for Science & Environment, India Habitat Centre, New Delhi as the Expert/Local Commissioner to assist the scrutiny by this Court,” the division bench said.

Ms. Sunita Narain, the court said, shall examine and give expert opinion on the permissibility of the construction being raised at the site, its impact from every angle on environment and ecology, its impact on the protection of River Jhelum.

“Ms. Sunita Narain shall also examine the river management policy schemes, practices of Jammu and Kashmir; the status of the rivers, give expert opinion regarding protection and preservation of the rivers, the effect of construction along the rivers, impact of release of sewage into rivers, impact of dumping of garbages on river banks and rivers.”

The court directed that the Government shall examine the recommendations and take urgent steps to implement the same. “Ms. Sunita Narain shall be assisted by Ms. Sushma Chouhan, DC, Jammu, in the above exercise to be undertaken.”

The DC Jammu has been asked to examine the documents relied on by the builder, trace the title chain and submit a report, the court said further. “Ms. Chouhan shall also examine the records relating to the land, its usage etc and submit a report to Ms. Sunita Narain.”

The court directed that the entire record of the case, including the revenue records, sale deeds, applications for non objection certificates filed, records relating to their processing and sanction accorded be placed before Ms. Sunita Narain for examination.

“Ms. Sunita Narian shall carefully scrutinize the same and submit a report to this court on the issues noted by us in the order dated 10th November 2020 and the present order,” the court said.

The court also ordered the continuation of the prohibition on any construction imposed by it on November 10 till further orders. (GNS)

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