Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Monday directed the Chief Secretary of the state to appoint Nodal Officers in all departments and submit a concrete action plan for interlinking of water bodies with the River Jhelum.
The court also directed the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir to address the issue of solid waste thrown in water bodies particularly in River Jhelum. The court directed the officer to file a report on this on the next date of hearing.
While hearing PILs on protection and preservation of wetlands and river Jhelum, the Division Bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Sanjeev Kumar sought compliance report of its directions passed on October 24, 2017, where the Chief Secretary of the state was directed to appoint nodal officers for protection and conservation of water bodies.
On October 24 the court had said that the authorities had failed to re-establish the networking of streams, lakes, wetlands with River Jhelum, for which the court directed the Chief Secretary to appoint Nodal Officers in all departments concerned.
Today, state counsel BA Dar submitted that he had received compliance report from the Chief Secretary but it did not contain a concrete action plan as was directed by the court.
Taking note of this non-compliance, the court again directed the Chief Secretary to appoint nodal officers without fail.
The court also directed Secretary National Environment to file his response by next date of hearing with respect to constitution of a State Wetland Authority.
On August 28, taking suo-motu cognizance on instructions of the Supreme Court about preservation and protection of wetlands, the High Court had issued notice to Ministry of Environment and Climatic Change to inform the court on the issue of constitution of a state wetland authority.
The Government of India has identified 2 lakh wetlands in the country and the Supreme Court has directed all states to set new wetland rules for their conservation and management.
As per the ‘Atlas Ecology and Remote Sensing’ of J&K, there are 1,230 wetlands identified under ‘Ramsar Conservation Sites’ and under Rule 5 of the concerned rules, an authority has to be in place for management of wetlands.