NEERI team ‘afraid’ to come to Kashmir for environment assessment of Boulevard 4-laning

NEERI team ‘afraid’ to come to Kashmir for environment assessment of Boulevard 4-laning

Srinagar: More than a year has been passed but the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) is yet to receive the report of environmental assessment of four-laning of the Boulevard road along the Dal Lake. An official at LAWDA told Kashmir Reader that because of the “situation” in Kashmir, the team that was to conduct the assessment has shied away from coming to Kashmir.
On directions from the state High Court, the J&K government in November 2017 asked the Nagpur-based National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) to carry out an environmental assessment so as to decide the fate of the project of four-laning of the famous Boulevard road, which runs along the Dal Lake.
Later, the J&K Government also officially invited the NEERI to carry out the assessment. However, the NEERI team has not yet come to Kashmir to carry out the assessment.
Officials at LAWDA told Kashmir Reader that they have not received the assessment report. “When we contacted them, they said they were afraid to visit Kashmir because of the ongoing turmoil in the valley,” an official at LAWDA told Kashmir Reader.
Carrying out the EIA (Enviromental Impact Assessment) of the four-laning project is a comprehensive process, as part of which the NEERI would have to consult at least 25 different departments and organisations in Kashmir, as per the LAWDA official.
These departments include Remote Sensing, Public Health Engineering (PHE), Public Works Department (PWD), Floriculture, Geology and Mining, and LAWDA itself, the official said, adding that the EIA would have to take on board the Dal dwellers as well.
The NEERI was also asked to do an EIA of the Western Foreshore Road along with that of the Boulevard. That, too, has remained stalled because of the NEERI team’s unwillingness to visit Kashmir.
The four-laning project is aimed to ease vehicular congestion on the Boulevard. Under the project, the road is to be widened from the UN Office at Sonwar to Kral Sangri.
Sajjad Hussain, Vice Chairman of LAWDA, said that they are waiting for the report and hopefully next month the NEERI team will visit Kashmir for the assessment. “After that, we can take the next step,” Hussain said.