SRINAGAR: The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) has been concealing vital information about money spent on the not-so-effective demolition drives for reclaiming the space illegally occupied by public in and around Dal and Nigeen Lakes.
Since early last year, the government body for maintaining Lakes and the Waterways across Kashmir Valley has been delaying response to an RTI seeking information about the amount of money spent on “water body reclamation efforts/cleaning of water bodies” in the areas.
The RTI, submitted by Saadut Hussain of Habak here in May 2013, had sought information on four points regarding Dal and Nigeen lakes over a period of the past three years: “The number and quantum of demolitions LAWDA has undertaken for illegal constructions; land area under illegal occupants before and after the three year period; the area reclaimed by LAWDA; and the amount of money spent on water body reclamation efforts/cleaning of water bodies.”
The LAWDA, however, didn’t reveal how expensive the demolition drives have been, forcing the applicant to make an appeal to the higher authorities in LAWDA.
“LAWDA has been deliberately avoiding a concise reply to my queries even after a delay of six months,” reads Hussain’s application to the first appellate authority in LAWDA in the November last.
Hussain subsequently held a meeting with vice-chairman (VC) LAWDA, but almost four months later, the response is yet to arrive.
“There has been no headway in the promised Plan of Action nor has any reply been received from LAWDA for the pending queries in my application,” reads a separate communication from Hussain to VC LAWDA.
Formed in late ‘90s, LAWDA has been tasked to maintain the area and quality of the water bodies in the Valley. It has been seemingly busy in cleaning the immensely polluted lakes and waterways while holding the demolition drives to reclaim the land occupied illegally by the public.
However, the demolition drives haven’t been effective as can be judged from the extent of constructions going on in or around the water bodies LAWDA is supposed to protect.
To the RTI query about the number and quantum of the demolitions, LAWDA had provided a 80-page report of the structures demolished. But the survey by the applicant showed that new structures had appeared at the demolition sites, and the LAWDA VC has admitted it in his meeting with Hussain, confirming that the demolition drives may not be effective.
“Details of structures demolished mismatched with facts on ground,” Hussain wrote to the VC in an email after the meeting. “You were kind enough to accept that the details of structures demolished could vary since people inside Dal would have created new or additional structures there.”
Besides the expenditure, LAWDA has been also hiding the information about total land occupied.
“No answer was provided by LAWDA for the figures of land area under occupation of Dal/Nigeen dwellers …including the water body free then versus the land area under their occupation and the water area available now,” Hussain mentioned in the written complaint to the appellate authority.