Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) to file a report 815 structures existing within 200 meters along the banks of river Lidder from Rangward and Mondlan to Nunwan Yatra Base Camp in Pahalgam resort.
Passing directions in a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar also directed Director Health Service Kashmir (DHSK) to a submit detailed report about health condition of the residents of the area.
As soon as hearing in the PIL began, the bench perused a compliance report filed on May 8 by Chief Engineer of I&FC Javed Jaffar, who was present in the court as directed by the court.
Regarding the status of 1280 illegal structures, which were identified to have come up within the 200 meters on Sheshnag nallah and Aru nallah, tributaries of Lidder from Rangward and Mondlan to Nunwan Yatra Base Camp, the Chief Engineer submitted a report about 465 of them.
These structures, the bench observed on perusal of the report, have come up before the date of passing of order banning constructions within 200 meters on the banks of Lidder.
The indexing of other structures apart from 465 is still awaited and Additional Advocate General M A Chashoo stated that it shall also be filed by next date of hearing.
“Seeing the report with regard to 465 structures and on the asking of the court, no satisfactory answer has been given with regard to disposal of sewer waste, sold waste etc,” the court said.
In fact, court said, it has been conceded that the whole sewer waste, solid waste etc is discharged in Lidder.
While some of the establishments might have the soaking pits, bench said, “In our view even soaking pits in an area where water level is very high may not be (proper) as it contaminate ground water, spreading deceases like Hepatitis B and C.”
In this background, the court impleaded J&K State Pollution Control Board through its Secretary as party respondent and issued notice for ensuring that all provisions concerning pollution laws are complied with.
“The (DHSK) shall submit a report with regard to the health condition of the residents and how many cases of Hepatitis B and C have been reported from the area. He may also collect information from hospitals like SKIMS and SMHS to find out magnitude of the pollution spread by the establishments,” the court said in another direction.
The court also directed the Chief Engineer I&FC to file status report with regard to the 815 structures (1280 minus 465) in the form as has been furnished in respect of 465 structures.
“It is for the Chief Engineer to undertake mapping of the whole area from Pahalgam to Khanabal of Lidder area as per the direction already issued. He may also go for Google images of the area and place same on record,” the court said.
Meanwhile, the bench directed Deputy Commissioner Anantnag to file status report regarding preventing any illegal construction within the 200 meter radius of each side of the Lidder.
“In the last order, specifically the direction was reiterated and the Deputy Commissioner was asked to report that the committees constituted by him function effectively and work with commitment so that no new construction could come within the radius of 200 meters,’ the court said and asked him to file the status report before the next date of hearing.
The court allowed submission by Advocate Parvez Imroz, representing petitioners, to file proper application about illegal constructions which according to him are going in Pahalgam town.
“Liberty is given to (Imroz) to file appropriate application by giving details of any such constructions,” the court said.
Earlier, the Chief Engineer also informed court that two more illegal structures have been demolished in Pahalgam.
The bench was hearing a PIL filed in 2010 by People’s Welfare Organization, a Pahalgam-based environmental NGO, seeking directions from the court to safeguard Pahalgam, one of the famous tourist destinations in Kashmir, from illegal constructions and pollution.