Srinagar: The J&K High Court on Wednesday directed the Municipal Committee Sopore to take immediate steps for removal of municipal solid waste dumped within the demarcated area of Wular Lake.
The court directed the Municipal Committee to place on record the site plan and the location of the new dumping site before the bench by the next date of hearing.
A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta also directed the Municipal Committee to inform the court with regard to the notification of Solid Waste Management Bye-Laws and the fines collected thereunder.
The court asked the authorities to file a report about steps which can be taken for earmarking the boundary of the Wular Lake in the manner in which it is required to be done.
The court asked the authorities to examine steps taken for marking the boundaries of Dal Lake in Srinagar to see whether similar steps are required to be taken for the Wular Lake.
“Let copy of the writ petition, reply filed by respondents be made available to Faizan-ul-Haq Iqbal, Secretary, District Legal Services Authority, Baramulla, within three days from today as also a copy of the order passed today, who shall verify the position and submit a report before us,” the court directed.
Meantime, the court asked Additional Advocate Generals (AAGs) BA Dar and MA Chashoo to coordinate with the Registrar General with regard to the court’s visit to Wular Lake.
The court on the previous hearing had said, “Given the nature of controversy and the contentions of the counsel for the petitioners, a court visit may be necessary.”
Earlier, the plea moved by Advocate Shafkat Nazir sought immediate stoppage of dumping of municipal solid waste/ biomedical waste on the land (Ramsar Wetland) contained under survey No. 90 situated at Dharnambal/ Ningli Tarzoo Sopore which falls within the delineated periphery pillars of Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) and also within the limits of Hygam-Ningli-Tarzoo Tourism Development Authority.
Advocate Nazir representing the Central Auqaf Committee Tarzoo submitted before court that in the month of March, 2020, the Municipal Council Sopore started dumping waste in close vicinity of Wular Lake.
“Both biodegradable and non-biodegradable and biomedical wastes were dumped right on the banks/ boundary of Wular lake in the midst of tourist huts and near the prestigious Wular barrage/ navigation project which is of international importance,” Nazir said.
He added that the solid waste was being dumped without following the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016, and the whole place had been converted into a stinky swamp.
“The water from the Wular Lake and also the rain water wash away the garbage and filth into the Wular Lake and river Jhelum and also into the premises of tourist huts. The area which was earlier identified as the only recreational park for the whole area was surprisingly converted into a dumping site without following the rules or taking any permission/NOC from the Pollution Control Board or WUCMA,” the plea submitted.
It was further submitted that the Department of Soil and Water Conservation in terms of communication dated 09-03-2020 has mentioned that the Municipal Council Sopore is attempting to encroach on the premises of the nursery land and has proposed dumping of solid waste within the delineated periphery of WUCMA and the plantation nursery.
“On the basis of the above said communication which was also forwarded to Divisional Forest officer, Bandipora, it was recommended that an FIR should be lodged against the Municipal Council Sopore for such encroachment,” Counsel Nazir stated in the petition.
It was also said through the plea that the Regional Director, J&K Pollution Control Board, in terms of Notice dated 15.06.2020 has reprimanded Municipal Council Sopore for dumping solid waste within Wular Lake demarcated area at Ningli/ Tarzoo Sopore and cautioned of serious legal action if same is not stopped immediately.
“However, the illegal dumping of waste still continues,” Nazir said.
It was pleaded that the respondents be directed to develop the area in a planned manner given its huge tourism potential while taking care of the environmental sensitivities.
“A direction may also be issued to the respondents to identify a proper place for dumping of municipal waste away from the residential and environmentally sensitive areas and develop the same in terms of Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016,” the petition sought.
Wular Lake is the largest fresh water lake in India and second largest in Asia. It is also a notified Ramsar wetland. The size of the Wular Lake varies seasonally from 30 sq km to 260 sq km. Wular Lake is a well defined ecosystem of numerous species of flora and fauna including Carp Fish, Water Chestnuts and Lotus Stem (Nadru). The river Jhelum enters the Wular Lake at Bandipora and then leaves it at Sopore. For the conservation and preservation of Wular lake, the Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) has been set up by the government.