Srinagar: The High Court on Tuesday appointed a three-member expert committee to file a comprehensive report on Dal Lake and suggest measures for its conservation.
Hearing the 16-year-old PIL on conservation of Dal Lake, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur observed that crores of rupees have been spent on the lake but to no avail. The bench said that Dal Lake can become an international tourist destination only if the state authorities were willing to work for it.
“It is, therefore, necessary to have an expert committee with the vision and the experience of having undertaken issues which involve wide-spectrum, multi-dimensional assessment, evaluation and resolution. Three names come to our mind so far as these attributes are concerned: Sreedharan, Nivideta Dhar, and MC Mehta,” the court said.
Chief Justice Mittal noted that in the sixteen years since the filing of the PIL, public money has been used without fruitful purpose. “It is the money of tax payers and common people which this court cannot at any cost let go waste,” the court said.
The petitioner’s counsel, Zaffar Shah, submitted before the court that as on date there is no legislation on water bodies. He submitted that a meeting of the monitoring committee on August 28, 2018, decided that legislation on water bodies be enacted and accordingly a draft was circulated among the secretaries of departments for their suggestion, but nothing had been received by way of suggestion. He remarked that this was how the state apparatus was working in J&K.
After hearing the counsel, Chief Justice Mittal directed the monitoring committee to file its suggestions by October 15, 2018.
Meanwhile, on issues relating to relocation of Dal dwellers, the VC of LAWDA, Abid Rashid Shah, submitted before the court that 1,158 families had been rehabilitated at 9 colonies in Rakhi Arth. Also, 700 kanals of land had been identified at Chandpora Harwan for establishment of 7,000 flats but due to paucity of funds the colony was yet to be established.
The court asked the VC if he had visited the resettlement area after rehabilitating the Dal dwellers there. To this the VC answered that he had joined his office at LAWDA only a few days ago.
After this response, the court said, “On enquiring about the particulars of relocation and rehabilitation of Dal dwellers, the report of VC LAWDA reveals that a vision document has not been finalised and (it is) on account of the author of the said document failing to participate in the deliberations.”
The court further said that this by itself speaks volumes about the manner in which work with regard to rehabilitation and restoration of Dal dwellers has been impeded.