SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court has directed the state government to take all necessary steps for restoration of Sheikhsar Rakhi Asham water body in Sumbal area of Bandipora district.
A division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey directed the government to carry out the restoration in light of a report filed by a committee appointed by it in 2013.
The panel has made ten recommendations including demarcation and ban on all constructions in and around the water body.
It had also recommended immediate removal of all encroachments and dredging to remove solid mass, by protecting its bathometry (depth) so that the natural flow of the water does not get altered.
“Water level around 2.0 meters need to be maintained in these water bodies and pumping out of water also needs to be regulated so that minimum water level is maintained.”
For flushing, circulation of water and maintenance of minimum depth, the team had recommended that the water body be provided with outlet points with regulatory gates in place.
The other recommendations include strict prohibition for dumping of solid wastes, preserving wetland around it and uprooting of all types of plantations including Salix, Willows, and Poplar trees within the wetlands.
The division bench also directed government to comply with the Supreme Court’s 2011 judgment, directing eviction of illegal and unauthorized occupants of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, Shamilat Land for the common use of villagers.
The apex court (In the Jagpal Singh and others v. State of Punjab and others, 2011) has stated that illegalities committed in nature of usurpation of Common Lands of the village communities cannot be regularized and the common interest of the villagers cannot be made to suffer merely because the unauthorized occupation has subsisted for many years.
It had directed the Chief Secretaries of all the States to formulate the schemes for eviction of illegal and unauthorized occupants of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, Shamilat Land for the common use of villagers.
So far as usurpation land by setting up of private commercial establishments like shops and stone crushers and raising of private residential houses was concerned, the court directed the State functionaries to take action for eviction of the encroachers, trespassers in terms of the judgment of the apex Court and restore the land for the common benefit of the villagers.