BARC to Construct Staff Quarters in Gulmarg

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

Bhaba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) is planning to construct staff quarters near one of its premier laboratories located in tourist destination Gulmarg.

Reports on Friday said that it has invited bids for it. However, there is a court ban on any type of construction in and around the ecologically fragile ski resort of Jammu and Kashmir.

BARC had early this week published an e-tender notice inviting “techno-commercial and financial bids” for the “construction of staff quarters at HARL (High Altitude Research Laboratory) in Gulmarg”.

Any sort of construction would be in violation of a Jammu and Kashmir High Court order of December 15, 2015.

The court had directed the state government to stop “forthwith” all the construction activities at Gulmarg, a tourist resort and popular winter sports destination, already under ecological threat from unregulated construction of hotels, shops and restaurants.

K Srinivas, chief engineer, civil engineering division of the BARC, based at Trombay in Mumbai, said, in response to queries, that they planned no new construction at the resort but wanted to repair an existing structure.

“This work is mainly replacement of existing dilapidated quarters of staff working there,” Srinivas told a news gathering agency.

Even if true, this also violates the court ban that also prohibits any renovation work of existing structure at Gulmarg.

The estimated cost for the construction is Rs 2.58 crore and interested contractors have been asked to submit an earnest money of Rs 5.16 lakh with their applications to be submitted by June 20.

The construction, according to the BARC advertisement, is to be completed within 24 months from the date when the work order is issued.

BARC officials in Srinagar admitted they had not approached the court or local authorities to seek permission for the proposed construction of quarters needed to house laboratory technicians.

“We are aware of the court ban. We are approaching (the court) through the proper channel. Eight housing quarters are needed for our technical staff,” a top official requesting not to be named said.

The official said they were “still finalising the drawings for the housing complex” and the tendering process was done ahead of court permission “to save time”.

“We will follow the court order whatever it will be,” the official said.

The development of the ski resort is looked after by Gulmarg Development Authority (GDA) – the apex body that builds tourism infrastructure and is also responsible for maintaining ecological balance at the resort that nestles in the Pir Panjal range of the western Himalayas in the Kashmir Valley.

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