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HC issues notices to J&K govt after army disallows axing of trees along Srinagar Baramulla Highway

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Srinagar: The Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court recently issued notices to the J&K Government and others in a petition filed by a contractor who was assigned to cut down the poplar trees along Srinagar Baramulla Highway as part of the ongoing widening and upgradation of this strategic highway in North Kashmir.

The petitioner has alleged that he is not being allowed to chop the trees wherever Army camps are located along the highway and has now sought the intervention of the High Court.

The petitioner submitted before the High Court that, pursuant to a notification issued by the respondents for e-auction regarding timber traders and extraction contractors for the sale of poplar trees coming under the alignment of the National Highway from Narbal to Baramulla, he had applied for the said work. Subsequently, he won the bid and commenced the work of chopping the poplar trees from Narbal to the Baramulla National Highway.

“The grievance of the petitioner is that as he reached the areas where the Army camps are located, he was stopped by the Army authorities for the execution of the work and was not allowed to cut down the poplar trees. It is also the grievance of the petitioner that he made various representations to the respondents to take up the matter with the Army authorities and sort out the issue, but the same has not evoked any response,” a single bench of Justice Rajesh Sekhri observed in its order, adding that a “prima-facie case for interim indulgence is made out.”

While admitting the petition, the High Court, in its order on March 13, issued notices to the concerned government authorities, asking them to file their response within a week. However, the Court further directed the concerned authorities to consider the representation submitted by the contractor while posting the matter for further hearing on April 29.

The work on the four-lane Srinagar-Baramulla National Highway, a prestigious project, is in full swing, which will improve connectivity for the people of north Kashmir. Prior to the widening work that began last year, this highway was dotted with hundreds of poplar trees, and the majority of them have already been axed.

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