Locals say constructions will cause environmental disaster, activist to move High Court
By: Ahmad Shabir
Anantnag: In 2010 when Pahalgam People’s Welfare Association moved the court against the Master Plan 2005-2025 which had paved way for the construction of hotels and other commercial structures in ecologically sensitive areas, The High Court in response to the litigation banned all kinds of constructions and repairs at the tourist spot. Describing the Master Plan full of flaws, the High Court directed the authorities to come up with new Master Plan for the famed spot.
The government formed a committee to frame the Master Plan 2032 which took almost five years to get finalised. The government finally approved the revised Master Plan in 2015. In the new Master Plan all the areas which had been declared permissible or non-green in previous Master Plan were declared non-permissible because of being environmentally fragile.
Now that the revised Master Plan for Pahalgam is in place for last four to five years, the local residents have again picked up major flaws in the same questioning the designation of ecologically fragile area around international golf course as permissible.
A local social and environmental activist Mushtaq Pahalgami while taking to Precious Kashmir said that the area has been designated as permissible under a conspiracy to benefit some particular people.
“The area around Pahalgam than Golf course is ecologically fragile area. So one wonders how this area which no authority in the past had dared to declare as permissible was declared so in the revised Master Plan 2032. It simply seems to have been done under a conspiracy by the then political establishment to benefit a few intending to construct hotels and other commercial establishments,” Pahalgami said.
Pahalgami has also written a letter to Chief Executive Officer , Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA) requesting him to take a note of how the area has been designated as permissible for constructions.
He is also mulling to move the High Court against the designation of the area as permissible in existing Master Plan. “I am hopeful that the honorable court will take a note of this to save the most environmentally sensitive area of Pahalgam from turning into concrete commercial colony,” Pahalgami said.
Sources said in last three years land mafia has shifted its focus only on this area given the fact that it is designated as permissible for commercial constructions.
“Many riches have purchased land in the area in last few years with the help of land mafia operating in Pahalgam. The pace at which the sale and purchase of land is going on in the area presently it seems the whole area like other areas of Pahalgam will witness a massive concretization in next few years,” the source said.
A daily wager working at Pahalgam golf course for last over a decade said that the scenic beauty of the golf course and its peripheries are now the only spots in entire Pahalgam that leave the tourists stunned but once this picturesque golf ground is surrounded by concrete hotels and huts it will lose its charm besides destroying the ecology of the entire area.
“The Golf course and its surroundings is the only place worth seeing in Pahalgam now and we cannot afford to lose it too,” the golf course daily wage labor said.
Town planner, Kashmir, Gulzar Ahmad told Precious Kashmir that they had not designated the area as permissible but it was done on the directions of the then chief minister even after the same had been submitted to the government for approval.
“We don’t know whether it was his vision or compulsion but it was designated as permissible at the final stage on the directions of the then Chief Minister. We have mentioned it even on the preface of the Master Plan.”
The preface of the Master Plan draft, the copy of which is in possession of this newspaper mentions that Master Plan 2032 incorporates the directions conveyed by the Chief Minister during the review meeting of draft Master Plan and subsequent visit of Pahalgam conducted by the Chief Minister.