Srinagar: The J&K High Court Thursday directed Secretary, Urban Development Department to release the entire amount of Rs 29.80 crores meant for the Dole Demb project.
“Unless you don’t develop Dole Demb, how can you shift the houseboats there,” the court remarked after the Vice-Chairman Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) informed it that out of Rs 29.80 crores sanctioned for the project only Rs 8.40 crore have been released so far.
The division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey was hearing a public interest litigation on Dal Lake conservation.
VC LAWDA submitted that on April 18, technical approval for the project has been received but funds are yet to be released.
The court said, “It is stated that the revised DPR (Detailed Project Report) has been examined, the technical approval has been received. The Urban Development Department on completion of other requisite formalities will release the entire amount for the Dole Demb Project. The Secretary, Urban Development Department shall file an affidavit on the next date about the latest status regarding release of the said amount.”
Meanwhile amicus curie Zaffar Shah pointed out from last five years the DPR has remained almost the same which meant that the progress on the conservation and maintenance of the lake has also remained the same.
The court was also informed that the compensation amount of around Rs 2-5 lakhs provided to owners for acquisition of the land at Dole Demb was not compatible to the market value.
The court remarked that that the first step should be acquiring of land as per negotiations with the owners and concerned authorities, secondly Dole Demb be developed for shifting of houseboats and above all, a special agency be convened for the project.
“If you want to save the water bodies, the practical difficulties are also needed to be separated from the system,” Justice Magrey said.
Calling for a report on procurement of de-weeding machines from concerned authorities, the court was surprised to hear that the decision has not been taken yet.
“In terms of order dated 06.03.2018, it was noticed that the memorandum for the submission to the Cabinet for procuring equipments for de-weeding etc. has been submitted to the competent authority on 27.02.2018. After clearance same is stated to have been submitted to the Cabinet which, according to Vice Chairman, LAWDA was considered by the Cabinet in its meeting held on 24.04.2018. According to him a decision has been taken that the authority will make power point presentation about progress regarding preservation of Dal which according to us is totally unacceptable. The power point presentation or any other action cannot be found fault with but keeping in view the timeline for procurement and utilization of equipments for de-weeding, non-acceptance of the memorandum submitted to the Cabinet by the competent authority is not in the interests of preservation of the Dal,” the court said.
It observed that on scientific basis a timeline was fixed for de-weeding in the month of April so that the weeding does not crop up beyond proportions.
“It is quite strange that the matter (equipment procuring) has been deferred when the Chief Secretary, who is the Chairman of the Monitoring Committee, is well conversant with the requirement of procurement of equipments,” the court said.
Meanwhile Vice Chairman, LAWDA, was directed that for the time being the earlier method which is in place for de-weeding be followed vigorously