HC pulls up govt over ‘casual approach’ on Dal conservation

HC pulls up govt over ‘casual approach’ on Dal conservation

Says it doesn’t believe in paperwork, there should be implementation of its orders since 2002 on ground  
SRINAGAR: The J&K high court on Thursday expressed its displeasure and anguish over “casual approach” of authorities in saving the Dal Lake, one of the endangered water bodies in the Kashmir Valley.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Justices R Sudhakar and Ali Mohammad Magrey said that hundreds of directions have been passed since 2002 by the court but nothing seems to be changing on the ground.
“All the authorities like state government, committees, LAWDA have failed to save the lake. We do not believe in paperwork and there should be implementation of the orders on ground level,” the court said, observing that around 1200 crores rupees have been released by government of India since 2003 but no improvement has taken place. “What problems do the authorities have in saving the lake,” the court asked.
During the course of proceedings Vision Document, prepared by ITT Roorkee for LAWDA, was produced before the court.
The decision to hire ITT Roorkee was approved by LAWDA’s Board of Directors last year and subsequent the offer was agreed to by the former.
The document is tipped to decide the fate of the land mass inside Dal Lake as to whether it be retained as floating gardens, converted into environmental parks or dredged out and added to water expanse. The LAWDA has claimed to have acquired 1,463 kanals of land mass inside the lake. Barring the 217 kanals that were added to the water expanse recently, the rest of the land is under its “actual possession.”
Vice-chairman LAWDA also informed the court that for shifting of Dal dwellers, about 2000 plots, measuring seven marlas of land, are in process at Rakh-e-Arth. In 2007, 7,526 kanals of vast wetland in city outskirts known as Rakh-e-Arth were earmarked for construction of the housing colonies for the rehabilitation of the Dal dwellers. Environmental clearance from State and National Wild Life Board were obtained soon.
Amicus Curie and senior advocate Z A Shah submitted that despite the directions of court and decisions of monitoring committee, constructions in and around the lake are being clandestinely raised despite a blanket ban.
Advocate General said that if monitoring committee was not doing its job, the amicus curie, who is one of its members, should raise these issues before the panel headed by Chief Secretary.
About the upgradation of the STPs, the court was informed that it will incur about 46 crores costs and the court maintained that untreated water needs to be arrested and should not go directly into the lake.
“The money should be a last issue as saving environment should be a primary concern and as such both upgradation of old STPs and installation of new STPs should be considered.”
While reserving its further directions, the court impressed upon the monitoring committee to meet during the current and impressed that deliberation should on the issue of STPs in the first instance.

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