Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High court on Tuesday directed the state government to immediately relocate houseboats to the interior of Dal Lake (Dole Dem).
The court observed that despite directions issued from time to time in this regard, the authorities are yet to take any action.
Hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) on the preservation of Dal Lake, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said, “The authorities should work properly on ground and we all need to stand up for restoration of our water bodies. We cannot remain mute spectators to environment degradation. It is in our hands and we can restore it if we want.”
The court directed that the houseboats should be shifted into the interiors of the lake so that direct flow of sewage into the lake can be stopped.
“We cannot close our eyes to the degradation of our environment,” Chief Justice Badar Durrez said.
Previously, the High court has directed the state government to take a string of measures to bring down the pollution levels in this lake and ensure its preservation. The government, on its part, has already shifted a few hundred families from areas adjoining the lake to the proposed satellite township of Rakh-i-Arth in the central district of Budgam, but the relocation of houseboats is yet to be done.
The VC of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) informed the court that the cleanliness drive around Dal Lake was in full swing. He said that lily plants are being removed from the lake and waste management is being taken care of. The court directed that a detailed report be presented on the next hearing of the PIL.
The court observed that the status report regarding the de-weeding of Dal Lake didn’t mention the manner in which it was undertaken. It asked authorities to again submit the status report before the next hearing.
The status report submitted by LAWDA stated that the environmental impact assessment with regard to Western Foreshore Road and four-laning of Boulevard Road was “in progress”. The court directed the agencies concerned to expedite the study.
The report further said that “56 springs are adding fresh water to the lake and the quality of water is within permissible limit”.
However, the court observed that the limit of Ammoniacal Nitrogen and Orthophosphate was not mentioned in the status report. The court directed authorities to file the same on the next date of hearing.
The court expressed dissatisfaction over the approach of the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) which was asked to collect water samples for assessment of water quality.
The Regional Director, State Pollution Control Board, had written a letter to VC LAWDA asking him to identify the spots from where the samples are to be collected.
The court said, “We express our dissatisfaction with the approach of the SPCB in complying with the court orders. Let the Regional Director file the affidavit explaining what directions they have taken with regard to analysing the areas which are already identified by LAWDA. And also ensure sampling of water from all the identified areas around the springs within a week’s time.”