On 16 May 2016, the J&K High Court registered a Public Interest Litigation based on a letter by its former Chief Justice, Justice Bilal Nazki regarding open and green space in the cities of Jammu and Srinagar especially.
Among others, the letter inter-alia states that in cities of Delhi, Chandigarh and Gandhinagar, the green space per capita is 22 sq.mtrs, 55 sq.mtrs and 160 sq.mtrs respectively but in Jammu and Srinagar, it is dismal 1.86 sq.mtrs and 2.60 sq.mtrs., respectively, as against the international standard laid down by World Health Organization of minimum of 9 sq.mtrs per capita.
Subsequently, the government through Director Floriculture informed the court that there are about 361 parks and gardens in Srinagar, out of which 109 parks and 8 gardens total 117 are maintained by the Floriculture Department; 51 by the Srinagar Development Authority, 29 by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation, 93 by the Jammu & Kashmir Housing Board (Unit I & II), 24 by the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control and 47 by the PWD (R&B). Similarly the court was informed about the parts in Jammu.
Also, the court was informed that some of the parks are well maintained whereas many of them are in very poor shape.
In the complete scenario of the things, the court had underlined that much more was required to be done first for the maintenance and development of the parks in existence and then for establishing new parks and green spaces. While the government is duty bound under law to comply with the directions of the court, most of the parks are not maintained as is required. Necessary measures need to be taken to ensure regular clearance of grass and continuous care including removal of trash.
As was directed by the court in its order 15 July last year, all encroachments or unauthorized constructions from all parks and green spaces must be ensured. The concerned authorities also ensure that no construction in the vicinity is raised without the proper permission and sanction of the map by the competent authority.
The importance of the public parks cannot be overemphasized as they help to preserve the quality and health of the living environment. Trees play an essential role in reducing and controlling air pollution. They provide a calm and soothing green spaces away from hustle bustle. The government has done a lot recently and it should continue to upkeep them.