Govt declares 1358 Kanals in Gulmarg, Sonamarg as ‘strategic areas’ for armed forces

Srinagar, Jan 05: The Jammu & Kashmir government has declared 1358 kanals and 6 marlas of land as “strategic areas” for training and operational requirements of the armed forces in Gulmarg and Sonamarg tourist resorts in Kashmir Valley.

A copy of notification issued by the J&K’s Tourism Department reveals that 1034 kanals and six marlas of land at Gulmarg and 354 Kanals at Sonamarg have been notified as strategic areas by the authorities while exercising powers under the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act.

The notification reveals that the land has been declared as a strategic area on the request of Army’s corps commander.

According to the notification, the corps commander shall ensure strict adherence to the environment laws to prevent any environmental hazard. “Corps commander shall ensure that no other applicable law in force in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is observed in breach,” reads the order.

As per the notification, the corps commander shall ensure that the order(s), if any, passed by any court or tribunal is strictly adhered to.

This is the first notification issued by the J&K government to declare any area as strategic area for armed forces after the Ministry of Home Affairs amended The Jammu and Kashmir Development Act-1970 in October 2020 through an executive order under the Reorganization Act.

On June 17, 2020, the J&K administrative council headed by then Lt Governor G.C. Murmu cleared the proposal to amend the J&K Control of Building Operations Act, 1988 and the J&K Development Act, 1970 for notifying “strategic areas” for use by the armed forces and regulating construction through a “special dispensation”.

Subsequently, the MHA amended these laws on October 26, 2020 to provide that  the Government may on the written request of an Army officer not below the rank of corp commander, declare an area as strategic area within a local area, only for direct operational and training requirements of armed forces, which may be excluded from the operation of this Act and rules/regulations made there under in the manner and to the extent specified in the declaration and the government may satisfy itself about the reasons cited for declaring the area as strategic area and will have such area notified accordingly with such conditions as may be required.

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