Take ‘policy decision’ on construction of flood-hit structures in Dal area, HC tells govt

Srinagar: The J&K High Court has asked government to take “policy decision” on applications from people seeking permission to rebuild their flood-ravaged homes within prohibited areas in the Dal lake.
As the hearing in a Public Interest Litigation seeking to safeguard the lake started before a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Dhiraj Singh Thakur, senior lawyer and amicus curie Z A Shah underlined need for government to take a stand as many structures have suffered partial and permanent damages in the September floods.
Shah said many applications have been filed with both the court and the Lakes & Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) seeking permission to reconstruct or repair houses and other establishments damaged by the deluge.
A court order is in force from 2002 which prohibits any kind of construction activity within 200 meters from the fringe of lake, a flagship of Kashmir’s tourism.
“In this factual scenario the state government shall have to take policy decision which may include shifting of these persons to some other areas by providing them alterative sites,” Shah said, emphasizing that Advocate General has to take a stand before the court over the issue.
“The submissions made at the Bar by Amicus do need serious consideration by the court as also by the state government,” the bench observed.
In order to enable the state to disclose its stand before the court, the bench directed its Registry to list the case on November 24.
The bench also directed LAWDA’s vice-chairman to remain present in the court on the next date of hearing.
The court was hearing a PIL filed in 2002 by Sheikh Tahir Iqbal, then a law student, to salvage the lake.
In another direction, the directed that copy of the applications seeking release of vehicles shall be provided to Senior Additional Advocate General M A Chashoo.
“Chashoo will inform the court as to how many applicants have violated the court orders more than once. This information be also placed before the next date,” the court said.