Srinagar: The high court said on Thursday that despite its vigorous efforts for the past 14 years to preserve the Dal Lake, the results it expected from the authorities have not been achieved and if the situation remains the same, the “dying” water body will be extinct in the near future.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey also warned that the hotels in Dal’s vicinity, including the government-owned Centaur, will be closed down if the management failed to take remedial measures to stop inflow of effluents into the lake.
“From the year 2002 this court has made earnest and vigorous efforts to ensure preservation of the world famous Dal Lake. Because of the insensitivity on part of some of the authorities, the desired results have not been achieved till date,” the court.
The PIL was filed in 2002 by one Syed Tahir Iqbal, seeking measures to save the lake, a flagship of Kashmir’s tourism.
The court also observed that while “Almighty God has been kind to people in creating Kashmir as heaven on earth”, the insatiable “human greed is converting it into a hell”.
On last date of hearing, the high court had said that a deterrent action would have to be taken against all those persons as well as officials involved in illegal constructions in and around the prohibited area of the lake.
However, at request of Advocate General, it deferred consideration of all compliance reports filed by Chief Secretary, Pollution Control Board, IGP Kashmir, scientist Ashok Kumar, representing the ministry of environment and forest, and Vigilance Organization.
“We request Advocate General to take serious measures on this serious issue and come up with concrete and practicable suggestions. Advocate General is also requested to take initiative in the backdrop of an order of the Court dated 4 December last year,” the bench said.
The court also cautioned all officials against any dereliction in duty, observing that a “delinquent will find his place not in office but somewhere else (apparently jail).”
At this juncture, the advocate general sought four weeks time to report about the steps being taken, and which would required to be taken in future for preserving the lake.
In another direction, the court also directed all stakeholders to take immediate remedial measures to stop direct inflow of pollutants into the Lake.
“All the stake holders including Hotel Centaur, Hotel Grand Palace and SKIMS Soura to take immediate remedial steps and file compliance report,” the court said, adding that if the remedial steps were not taken, it will be “constrained” to initiate measures, which might also result in shutting down all these hotels.
The court’s direction followed perusal of a report by PCB which suggests direct inflow of effluents in the water body by the hotels and the SKIMS.
While posting the PIL for further consideration in the week commencing March 22, it directed all the authorities to file a status report during the time.
It also directed court appointed commissioners—Mohammad Shafi Khan, who retired last year as principal sessions judge Srinagar and Abdul Hamid Bhat, former SSP—to make further visits to the area, including Dal Lake, and file another report before next hearing.