Srinagar: The J&K high court on Thursday directed the chief secretary and joint secretary of Indian tourism ministry among other officials to appear before it next month to settle the matter about preservation of Dal Lake “once for all.”
Hearing a public interest litigation filed by one Syed Tahir Iqbal in 2002, a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey along with Advocate General DC Raina and amicus curie Zaffar A Shah tried to evolve some permanent mechanism for the preservation of water bodies, including Dal Lake, in the state.
It was highlighted that for the past nearly 14 years, the court has been issuing directions but the desired results have not been achieved till date.
“It was admitted across the board that this issue would require to be settled once for all. It is for this reason, we direct the chief secretary of the state, commissioner secretary Housing and Urban Development Department, commissioner secretary Finance and Planning Department to remain present before the court on next date,” the court said.
Besides state authorities, the court also directed the joint secretary ministry of tourism, government of India, to remain present before Court on next date of hearing in the PIL.
“It is Constitutional duty of this Court to preserve the environment and it is for this reason that this PIL is pursued by the court,” said the division bench.
In 2013, senior advocate Zaffar A Shah had impressed upon the court that time has come when the state government should consider setting up of a full-fledged department for preservation and conservation of all water bodies in the state.
The department, he had said, would be better rather than creating a body which is locally assigned the work of a particular Lake, like LAWDA (Lakes and Waterways Development Authority) for Dal Lake and WUCMA (Wullar Conservation and Management Authority) for Wullar Lake.
“The full-fledged department shall comprise mostly experts so as to ensure it takes all the care water bodies entail,” Shah had said.
The high court had then directed the state government to consider the suggestion made by Shah in another PIL—Kashmir Environment Protection Vs State of J&K and others. It pertains to conservation of Wullar, one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia. The government has created WUCMA in September, 2012, for the restoration of the lake.
Meanwhile, the division bench announced to consider latest report filed by the court-appointed commissioners—Mohammad Shafi Khan, who retired last year as principal sessions judge Srinagar and Abdul Hamid Bhat, a former SSP.
“We defer dealing with this report till new date. We request DC Raina, Advocate General, to appear in this case on next date also,” the court said and directed its registry to list the case in the week commencing from April 4.