It may also be noted that that the Hon,ble high court J&K in August 2011 had directed the DC Ananthnag to seal the property of the hotel for violating court directions and for felling more than 140 kali and pine trees.

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|| MUSHTAQ PAHALGAMI

             Hotel Grand Mumtaz Pahalgam which is situated next to the golf course on leased land, was covered in news for drying up green trees and was also subsequently sealed by the hon’ble court has now installed a pipe to drain sewage water into the fresh Sheshnag nallah near Pahalgam club bridge. The photograph is showing it and anybody who visits the area knows what a horrible stench it produces.

        This ruthless and irresponsible action is causing massive destruction of flora and fauna in the stream and in the adjacent jungle and needs to be checked and stopped immediately. The trees inside the hotel’s complex were declared as having dried up naturally by the investigation team but when the same trees did not dry up in the adjacent pine and peak resort or in the golf course how could they possibly dry up naturally only inside the grand muntaz hotel? We apprehend the report was biased due to the owner’s influential position and demand a reinvestigation into the matter as well as in the matter of draining sewage into the sheshnag nallah.The environment law fixes responsibility on both the offender and responsible officers in the matter and says the following:

THE ENVIRONMENT (PROTECTION ACT), 1986. 16.

(1) Where any offense under this Act has been committed by a company, every person who at the time offense was committed, was directly in charge of and was responsible to the company for the conduct of the business of the company, as well as company shall be deemed to guilty of the offense and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punish accordingly; Provided that nothing contained in this subsection shall render any such person liable to any punishment provided in this Act, if he proves that the offense was committed without his knowledge or that he exercised all due diligence to prevent the commission of such offense.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in this sub-section (1) where an offense under this Act has been committed by company, such director, manager secretary or other officer of the company, such director, manager secretary or other officer shall also deemed to be guilty of that offense and shall be liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly.

Quoting an Indian Express news report, “The orders of the Bench, comprising acting Chief Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifullah and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, followed perusal of a report by the Principal District Judge, Anantnag, and the courtappointed Expert Committee, wherein the violation of court orders has been reported by the Grand Mumtaz.

‘We find the hotel management has violated the orders of this court by resorting to construction and also by felling the standing green trees’ “.

Explanation.- For the purpose of this section,-

(a) “company” means any body corporate and includes a firm and other association of individuals;

(b) “director” in the relation to a firm, means a partner in the firm. The Himalayan Welfare Organization ,Pahalgam has also requested Hon,ble MLA Pahalgam, Altaf Kulloo, Hon,ble MLA Shangus, Gulzar Ahmad Wani, Hon,ble and Hon,ble M LC, S ofi Yousuf t o r aise this horrendous and serious criminal matter in the legislative assembly and council respectively. We have also repeatedly raised both matters with local administration but in vain. We hope now, with the matter being raised in the legislative assembly and council, the media will also take serious note of the matter and justice will finally be served.

         It may also be noted that that the Hon,ble high court J&K in August 2011 had directed the DC Ananthnag to seal the property of the hotel for violating court directions and for felling more than 140 kali and pine trees. Quoting an Indian Express news report, “The orders of the Bench, comprising acting Chief Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifullah and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar, followed perusal of a report by the Principal District Judge, Anantnag, and the court-appointed Expert Committee, wherein the violation of court orders has been reported by the Grand Mumtaz. ‘We find the hotel management has violated the orders of this court by resorting to construction and also by felling the standing green trees’ “.

          Further, the Managing Director, Mushtaq Ahmad was also ordered to plant 100 trees and furnish a security bond of Rs. 2 crore and was made to file an affidavit stating and pledging further non-violation of the court’s order, which makes the contempt notice and its implications live today. Jarringly, despite all this the owners still have the guts to further violate the court’s order and disturb the environment. Obviously the penalty and punishment was not serious enough to discourage them. We thus appeal to the hon’ble court to re-open the case and augment the sentence to set a strong example by stopping grand mumtaz and discouraging other potential offenders.

(Editor’s note: Views expressed by the author are his own, Kashmir Leader doesn’t subscribe to any of his views)