Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to file a response regarding quality and volume of water, treatment of sewerage, and process of de-weeding in and around Dal Lake. It also directed the government’s Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to provide a detailed project report for conservation of water bodies like Anchar, Gilsar, Khushalsar and Nigeen lake, on the next date of hearing.
A division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey passed these directions while hearing a Public Interest Litigation. The judges expressed serious concern over the influx of untreated sewerage into the Dal Lake. The court observed that 50 million litres of sewerage is generated per day within and outside the peripheries of the lake. Out of this, 30 million litres is treated through STPs and the rest 20 million litres is directly pumped into the lake, degrading the water day by day.
In its response, LAWDA informed the court that upgrading of STPs is in process and more STPs will be constructed within three years.
The court remarked that if STPs will be constructed within three years, then around 21,900 million sewerage litres will be pumped into the lake which will result in more deterioration of the lake.
Pointing to a booklet presented by LAWDA in the court today, Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed said, “It is in your hands. You can be no.1 state in the country but there is a need to work for it.”
The booklet, titled ‘Myths, perceptions and Realities’ by Er Basharat Ahmed Kawoosa, contained maps from 1959 to present that gave detailed view of the Dal Lake and its peripheries.
The court in its order said that the booklet should be put on the website of LAWDA for general awareness, and also remarked that as per this booklet it appears that the surface water has remained more or less the same.
“It appears the total area governed by Dal Lake was 28.7 sq km (2009 survey). But from satellite image of 2013, the total area is 22.56 sq km. Also, the surface water has not altered much as per this data. So, counsel from petitioner is directed to file any report regarding the same,” the court said.
The court observed that other water bodies like Nigeen, Anchar, Khushalsar and Gilsar must be revived to save Dal in the long term.
In its response, LAWDA described them as “marshes”, at which the court directed LAWDA to carry out the same exercise for other water bodies for their preservation and to submit a detailed report before the next hearing.
LAWDA was also directed to submit a 3D-contour report of the depth and the floor of both Dal and Nigeen lakes. The court asked for an analysis
report to be submitted by the next date of hearing.
On the previous hearing, the court had said that if stern action was not taken against encroachers, “our posterity may lose the Dal Lake”. It had called for the lake’s preservation as a collective responsibility of all, state or citizens.
The court further directed the chief secretaries of the monitoring committee and the scientific advisory committee to submit their report on next hearing and remarked that they have not carried out their job satisfactorily.
The court also directed LAWDA to put a signage board at Chashm-e-Shahi spring, as a report had been submitted before the court that visitors had polluted the drinking water by washing their feet and shoes in it.
“This practice should be discouraged; purity of water must be maintained. The status report about this issue should be submitted before court,” the judges directed.