The Jammu and Kashmir administration has declared nearly 70 hectares or nearly 1400 Kanal of land in Gulmarg and Sonamarg tourist resorts of the valley as “strategic areas”, paving the way for the Indian army to take control of these swathes.
The armed forces can undertake infrastructure development even in ecologically fragile areas which are declared “strategic areas” by the government.
According to an order issued in Jammu on 31 December 2021 by the Tourism Department of Jammu and Kashmir, 1,034 Kanal (approximately 52 hectares) of land at the famous ski-resort of Gulmarg in Baramulla district and 354 kanals (approximately 18 hectares) kanals in Sonmarg, another popular destination in Ganderbal district, were declared as “strategic areas” for the use of armed forces in the region.
The Corps Commander will look over strict adherence to the environment-related laws to prevent any environmental hazard and ensure that no other law applicable in the union territory of J&K is breached, the order said.
“Corp Commander shall ensure that the orders, if any, passed by a hon’ble court/tribunal in this regard, are strictly adhered to,” the order reads.
As per the amendments, the armed forces can undertake infrastructure development even in ecologically fragile areas which are declared as “strategic areas” by the government.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti criticized the government move, saying the allocation of huge tracts of land to armed forces in tourist areas of Jammu and Kashmir confirmed the intention of the Centre to “convert J&K into a military garrison”.
Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “Allocating thousands of kanals to armed forces that too in tourist areas confirms GOIs intention to convert J&K into a military garrison. Under the ‘state land’ pretext, our land is up for grabs & to add insult to injury locals are being evicted from their homes.”