Asks for photographic evidence of removal of water lilies, check on sewerage flowing directly into lake
Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday passed strict directions to the fisheries department to stop illegal fishing in Dal Lake, after a scientific committee report informed the court that major species of fish were on the decline.
The court was informed that illegal fishing in the lake takes place during night hours, without any concern shown by the department. Taking notice of the report, the court directed the fisheries department to stop the illegal fishing forthwith and verify licences for fishing in the lake. The court also asked the department to file an updated report on what criteria the fishing licences are issued.
Hearing a PIL, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey remarked that illegal fishing has to be stopped and the fisheries department must take immediate steps in this regard.
Chief Justice Badar Durrez said, “You have a diamond in the shape of the Dal Lake. People come to see its beauty. If we didn’t polish this diamond on regular basis, it will lose its lustre and nobody will take interest in it.”
Meanwhile, a report presented by the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) submitted that 0.6 square kilometres of Dal Lake had been cleared of water lilies, out of the estimated 5 square kilometres, amounting to 10 percent removal of water lilies.
The court sought explanation as to when the rest of the 90 percent work would be completed.
The LAWDA counsel informed the court that the agency was uprooting water lilies through traditional methods and it will take time to clear the entire area.
The court passed directions that photographic evidence on removal of water lilies be submitted before the court on the next hearing. The court further directed that the process of removing weeds from the lake shall continue so that the water surface of the lake is freed from weeds. However, the court remarked that entire weeds cannot be removed as they are part of the lake environment.
The court also took note of four artificial wetlands existing in Dal Lake reported by the scientific committee. It remarked that certain kind of vegetation can be done on these wetlands so that it can suck up nutrients and silt from the catchment areas, which can halt growth of weeds and improve water quality in the lake.
The state counsel informed the court that the depth of Dal Lake could not be ascertained yet and requested the court to grant more time. The court granted four more weeks and asked for a report.
Meanwhile, the water analysis report of Dal and Nigeen submitted by LAWDA said that sewerage flow into the lake is crossing permissible limits as all the STPs (sewage treatment plants) were not producing optimum results.
“We direct Commissioner Secretary Monitoring committee to file actual timeline of when the existing STPs will be upgraded and new ones constructed. The report has to be filed on next date of hearing,” the court said.
“We are also informed that the sewerage flowing from hotels particularly Centaur and Grand Palace is also not being checked and is directly going into the lake. We direct the authorities to check the same and file report on next hearing. Insofar as water analysis is concerned, the research and monitoring section of LAWDA be equipped with latest equipments so that water quality can be analysed more efficiently and in detailed manner,” the court said.
“As far as water quality of Cheshma-Shahi is concerned, we find that that all parameters have been taken except removal of qualiform weed, which needs to be removed so that water at Cheshma-shahi becomes absolutely safe for drinking purpose. When this will be achieved, display proper signage boards so that people can drink safe water,” the court directed.