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The Sonmarg Development Authority here says that 7674 kanals

Posted by hwopahalgam on August 6, 2017 at 4:55 AM

Sonamarg October 16,2016:

1. The Sonmarg Development Authority here says that 7674 kanals of land has been transferred to them by the revenue department but the fact of the matter is that no land except a few canals has been transferred to the SDA. There has also been no clear demarcation of land boundaries despite the SDA writing letters to the DC office, Ganderbal 13 times since 2010, to 2016 implying revenue department's open support to the land mafia here.

2. The boundary pillars of the forest, we are told by locals, have been removed by the land mafia itself and construction has either been done or is going on at these points. Even the wildlife department seems to be facilitating the land mafia, with forests having handed over compartment 52 to 62 to wildlife many years ago, yet with no action from forests' side to save the area from illegal encroachment and/or construction.

3. SDA, Sonamarg is also sitting comfortably in Ganderbal, having shut his Sonamarg local office allowing violators to easily carry out their nefarious plans. Steel and cement is being brought in and used fearlessly yet when we met and asked the Chief Executive Officer CEO Sonamarg Development Authority SDA, he initially denied that any such thing is going on. When we showed him the pictures however, he called up local officers and confirmed that environmental violations were indeed being carried out.

4. From what we gathered off the record from the locals and from people in the administration, as senior officer in Tourism is also involved in the matter, facilitating this ruthless devastation of the local environment.

5. Neither the land use plan is being taken care of nor are concerns of local environment/ecology being addressed. The meadows, forests and wildlife sanctuaries are being devastated at an alarming rate as the region is fast turning into a concrete jungle but tourism department is busy milking the area as a money minting machine throwing sustainability down the drain.

6. There were just two small hotels in Sonamarg till 2008, Glacier heights and Glacier but hundreds of new hotels stand there today, and many more are under construction. We are told most of these came up while Yousuf Bhat was the Chief Executive Officer SDA , but when a certain Shabbir Ahmad joined in his place, he tried to control the matter but was later transferred to Padash for not accommodating 'boss's' orders!

7. In the name of tourism promotion, earlier sensitive destinations like Pahalgam and Gulmarg and now Sonamarg is being destroyed. Some officers in Revenue have clearly joined hands with the land mafia and local politicians who are busy building hotels here. A NC leader and presently MLA, Kangan is also equally responsible for protecting and shielding these violators. The devastation that we see today began in full swing when he was the environment minister and a number of influential people have since profited from hopping on to the wagon subsequently.

The Himalayan Welfare Organization - HWO team headed by Mushtaq Pahalgami, that visited the region id concerned about the gravity of the situation and the urgency of the need to find a solution. We urge and appeal to the media to highlight the issue and urge the government to take up immediate meassures to stop further violations and bring the guilty to the books.

Team HWO , Pahalgam

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