Funds spent on water bodies not matching results: HC

Srinagar: “We sadly feel that for last many years the magnitude of results is not matching to the funds spent on water bodies,” a Division Bench of Chief Justice M M Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi observed Wednesday.
“Much more could be easily achieved by close monitoring by the experts,” the bench said and directed National River Conservation, which is a directorate working under the Environment and Forests Government of India, to depute an expert to oversee the implementation process of Wullar Lake conservation.
Hearing a PIL, the court also urged Attorney General of India to depute an officer not below the status of ASG (Additional Solicitor General) “so that concrete results by hefty spending of the (funds) released by the central and state agencies be utilized in proper directions.”
The directions followed perusal of the status report filed by Wullar Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) in compliance to the last order by the court, requiring latter to file a ‘comprehensive plan’ on how the amount spend would be able to achieve the results which are contemplated under the “Save Wullar Lake” campaign.
In the report, the WUCA stated that there are four areas identified where the funds have been utilised.
“(But) there are no details forthcoming that how the surveyor demarcation have been implemented on the ground,” the court said.
The CEO, WUCMA, who was present in the court, tried to explain the implementation process orally, but the bench asked to him to explain the details of implementation of various projects under the four heads by filing a detailed affidavit.
“Coming back to the larger issue, we go back to the orders passed on September 11, 2013, where we had issued directions to the central government through the department of Environment, Central Government (National River Conservation Authority), to depute an expert to oversee the implementation for Wullar conservation,” the court said.
While government of India preferred an SLP in Supreme Court, it was dismissed as withdrawn on the statement made by ASG that they will file appropriate application before the High Court.
Accordingly, a review petition was filed before the High Court in which directions issued on August 26 and September 11 last year were sought to be reviewed.
“We see no reason to review the orders, and reiterate the directions issued therein,” the court said and directed NRC to comply with the earlier directions and depute an expert to oversee the implementation process after examining the action plan with regard to the conservation and preservation of the Wullar.
“The Wullar Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes of Asia. The pristine beauty of Dal Lake has also been highlighted world over. The huge funds which are been earmarked for saving these lakes could be utilised only if some experts are provided to the local scientists,” the bench said.
The court was hearing a PIL—Kashmir Environment Protection Vs State of J&K and others, seeking to safeguard the Wullar Lake.