STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: A Division Bench (DB) of the State High Court comprising First Puisne Judge, Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Sindhu Sharma on Wednesday directed the Municipal Veterinary Officer (MVO), Jammu to appear personally before the court and apprise about the plan prepared for construction of cattle pound at Village Seri Khurd, Tehsil Nagrota District Jammu. The Division Bench further directed that the MVO, Jammu shall also apprise the court as to which authority has taken the decision to level the land. These court directions have been passed in a Public Interest Litigation filed by an NGO SAVE through its Chairperson Devinder Kour Madaan alias Rumpy Madaan seeking closure of 59 illegal/unregistered milk dairies running within the limits of Jammu Municipal Corporation and also for regulating the functioning of existing 57 number of registered dairies as per the existing norms and guidelines issued by JMC under Section 44(n) of Jammu Municipal Corporation Act, 2000. The PIL further highlights inadequate cattle pounds in Jammu City despite huge population of stray cattle. After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Rahul Raina, Supriya Chouhan, Intakhab Ahmed Qazi and Mohammad Zulkarnain Choudhary appearing for the petitioner, Advocate Sachin Gupta for JMC and Government Advocate Ayjaz Lone for the Forest Department while Advocate Amita Khajuria for National Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, New Delhi, the DB while expressing its displeasure over the massive leveling of the land earmarked for construction of cattle pound directed that the Municipal Veterinary Officer, Jammu while appearing in person will apprise the Division Bench as to which authority has taken the decision to level the land. Advocate S.S Ahmed appearing for the petitioner drew the attention of the Division Bench towards the latest status report filed by Jammu Municipal Corporation wherein it was highlighted that the construction of aforesaid cattle pound is in full swing and the land is being leveled. It was also submitted in this status report that the Divisional Forest Officer, Jammu is not allowing the JMC to continue with the leveling work on the ground stating that the land belongs to Forest Department and the further work has been stopped in view of the obstruction caused by the Forest Officials. Upon this, the DB expressed concern over the leveling of the entire land by disturbing the natural habitat and put a specific query to Advocate Sachin Gupta appearing for JMC that on whose directions the ground leveling work of the entire land has started. Responding to query, Advocate Sachin Gupta submitted that it is only the MVO Jammu who can answer the query of the Court and today because of some meeting, the aforesaid Officer is out of station. Government Advocate Ayjaz Lone appearing for the Forest Department submitted that about 50 Kanals of Forest Land is being interfered with and sought to be put for the construction of cattle pound. Citing SC verdict, he said that no non-forest activity can be undertaken in a demarcated/un-demarcated forest land. Advocate Lone vehemently argued that the mechanism for conversion/diversion of Forest land has been elaborately dealt in J&K Forest Conservation Act and the land in question without adopting the procedure as laid down in the Forest Conservation Act cannot be diverted for any non-forest activity. He further submitted that even the Forest Officers did not sign the minutes of the joint demarcation report. While rebutting the submissions of Govt. Advocate Ayjaz Lone, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed submitted that land measuring 97 Kanals and 4 Marlas was handed over to Jammu Municipal Corporation.
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