SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed authorities to find “optimum solution” to all issues arising due closing of at least seventeen hotels located within Dal Lake, the flagship of J&K’s tourism.

“Let the report of the Committee of Experts and this order be placed before the Chief Secretary of the Government of J&K for examining the matter for the optimum solution of all the issues arising,” a bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta said, reported news agency GNS.

“It shall be open for the Chief Secretary to appoint an appropriate committee for looking into the matter and making its recommendations keeping in view the interest of the Union Territory, the residents as well as the land/business owners and the various persons dependent for livelihood on the related businesses,” the court said after hearing a plea by a hotelier whose hotel is among the 17 such structures ordered to be closed by the government for alleged violation of norms.

The expert committee had said: “Since the hotel is located within Dal Lake area (within the Dal waters) and has been identified for being rehabilitated, the hotel has to be closed down and shifted. Govt of J&K should formulate a policy for rehabilitation of such commercial units. The Hotel should not be allowed to continue at the present location, even if they establish a modern sewage treatment plant and its effluent conform to the latest standards set by the pollution control board.”

Being located within the Dal waters, the expert committee had said that the danger of pollutants leaching into the Lake will always remain.

“The Govt. of J&K may most expeditiously devise a policy for rehabilitation of commercial units since it does not have one at present,” The CoE said and advised that the J&K government may examine the policy in this regard available under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act. 2013. “The Policy may cover all cases that fall in the category of commercial units to avoid complaints in future and should be devised urgently.”

The counsel for the petitioner contended that it was imperative that an immediate policy decision was taken by the Government to enable the petitioner to continue with the trade and business to ensure availability of good hospitality to the tourists who visit the valley. He submitted that the closure of the petitioner’s hotel adversely affects the livelihood not only of the petitioner but several other persons who were employed by the hotel.

“We have observed that the Committee of Experts has noticed not only the closure of petitioner’s hotel but 17 other hotels have also been closed down,” the court said and underlined that the matter involves multiple departmental consultations between the Tourism Department, Pollution Control Board, LAWDA and also the Revenue Department.


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