Land in Gulmarg, Sonamarg notified as ‘strategic areas’ for use by armed forces

Corps Commander must ensure adherence to environment laws, says govt. order

Srinagar

The J&K government has declared around 1,358 kanals (169.75 acres) as “strategic areas” in the tourist hotspots of Gulmarg and Sonamarg in north and central Kashmir.

According to an order issued by the J&K’s Tourism Department, 1,034 kanals and six marlas of land in Gulmarg and 354 kanals in Sonamarg have been notified as strategic areas by the authorities, while exercising powers under the Jammu and Kashmir Development Act.

It said the Corps Commander must ensure strict adherence to environment laws.

“The Corps Commander shall ensure that no other applicable law in force in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is observed in breach,” said the order.

It also underlined that the officer shall ensure that orders passed by any court or tribunal are strictly adhered to.

This is for the first time since the Control of Building Operations Act, 1988, and the J&K Development Act, 1970 were amended in 2020 that the government has issued such a notification.

As per the amendments, the government can notify “strategic areas” for use by the armed forces and regulating construction through a “special dispensation”.

The government said a special mechanism needed to be put in place for such strategic infrastructure needs.

“Whatever development takes place, especially when it is in the local areas of development authorities, it conforms to the overall developmental plan,” the spokesman said.

The government said notified “strategic areas” were within existing armed forces land.

Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti, in a tweet, said, “Allocating thousands of kanals to armed forces, that too in tourist areas, confirms GOI’s intention to convert J&K into a military garrison. Under the ‘state land’ pretext, our land is up for grabs and, to add insult to injury, locals are being evicted from their homes.”

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