Issues slew of directions for conserving, preserving the endangered water body
Srinagar: Moved by the precarious condition of the Dal Lake, the J&K High Court has directed government to seek global attention for conservation and preservation of Kashmir’s endangered water body.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Justices Ramalingam Sudhakar and Ali Mohammad Magrey also asked monitoring committee headed by state’s chief secretary to recommend to the government to form a non-profit trust, like Dal Lake Fund.
“It can be given the task of restoration of the Dal. Fund for the trust can be sourced from the central and state governments and from corporates who are willing to provide funds under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) scheme,” the court said during the hearing which it started as “save Dal is the motto of the day.”
The court also noted that various corporates have joined hands to safeguard the environment, the water, the agrarian land, the forest and the ecosystem etc.
“A group of private corporate with the guidance of the World Wildlife Fund have created a network called the India Water Stewardship Network (IWSN) which focuses on good water governance, sustainable water balance, good water quality and important water related areas (ecosystems and cultural sites),” the court said and underlined that they provide the inputs for effective management of water and water bodies.
Further, the court said, another organization is functioning globally called ‘Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS).
“They partner with World Wildlife fund and global leaders to ensure sustainable water management so as to benefit the global environment. The world Wildlife Fund is also conserving environment, nature and climate. These organisations may also be consulted if found relevant to the task taken up to the monitoring committee,” it said.
The court also suggested that the school going children and students of various colleges should be asked to take part in community services programmes specifically focusing on a clean environment in and around the Dal Lake.
“This will encourage good Samaritans to help to save the Dal Lake,” the court said and asked state government to “positively” respond to the suggestions to restore the beauty of the Dal Lake, calling it heritage of the valley.
The court initiated proceedings in the PIL in 2002, and has passed a number of orders from time to time.
By an earlier order, the court had directed constitution of a monitoring committee and had mandated it inter alia to arrest the pollution and damage caused due to the discharge of waste elements into Dal for restoring its beauty and pristine glory.
Thereafter, the court said, a need arose to assist the monitoring committee by the panel of scientific experts following which a scientific advisory committee was constituted on 28 November last year.
During the hearing the vice chairman of LAWDA and senior advocate Z A Shah, amicus curie in the PIL, referred to the vision document, prepared by IIT Roorkee. It relates to several aspects of Dal Lake conservation. They stated that the vision document will be considered by the scientific advisory committee and thereafter by the monitoring committee shortly and a decision will be taken as to how to proceed further in the matter.
Shah stated that controlling and recycling of sewerage discharged by residential and commercial buildings is one of the serious issues that was causing damage to the Dal lake. He stated that the existing Sewerage Treatment Plant (STPs) were not effectively functioning and needed to be upgraded.
Shah said that the cost factor was a serious issue that was hampering the decision making process. He submitted that a huge amount has been spent so far but the “goal is nowhere near.” He emphasized that a proper STPs were the need of the hour and that a Detailed Project Report (DPR) is required for effective implementation of the STPs. He said that despite several meetings by the monitoring committee, the committee was yet to resolve as to the correct method to be adopted for arresting the sewerage and other waste reaching the Dal. He said that the existing STPs are older version and their up-gradation may entail substantial cost. He said that new and larger STPs were required to be a established on a long time vision to recycle the discharge, residential and commercial, keeping n mind the population explosion and the growth of housing and commercial establishment.
“By taking note of various issues addressed by the Amicus curie and the vice-Chairman LAWDA, who are part of the Monitoring Committee, the vision document submitted by the IIT Roorkee and the stand taken by the state through Advocate General, we are of the view that the monitoring committee in consultation with the scientific committee should evolve an action plan as to how restoration of Dal Lake should be taken in a systematic manner,” the court said, underlining that the issues that need to be addressed should be prioritized so that “serious issues or danger zones can be given precedence.”
The monitoring committee, the court said, may consider and segregate the work to different implementing groups for taking up the task as per the priority list. “We leave it to the monitoring committee to devise a proper method as to how the issue will be addressed based on a priority list. The intention is to ensure restoration and preservation of Dal Lake is done in a systematic manner and on a defined time frame,” the court said. The court also passed other directions based on the monitoring committee’s minutes of meeting submitted before the court. In all 15 items were considered by the monitoring committee and one of them included issue about arresting discharge of effluents into the Dal lake.
“We feel that it is necessary to ensure that the discharge of effluents and sewer by the inhabitants in and around the lake is one of the major contributing factors for the degradation of the Dal. As was suggested by amicus curie, while exploring all possibilities of setting up of a new version of the STP plants, the re-structuring or refurnishing of the existing STPs should also be examined because if by any chance the existing STPs are stopped, the impact it may have on the pollution of the Dal lake will be irreversible and hence it may also be considered,” the court said, emphasizing that the inputs from the Scientific advisory committee and other technically qualified institutions be considered. “We would like to point out certain NGOs and other organisations may be consulted for technical experience. We emphasize the need for priority in respect of STPs considering the impact it has polluting the Dal Lake,” the court said.
It also approved monitoring committee’s initiative for installation of CCTV cameras around Dal as well need for strengthening the enforcement wing of the Dal.