SrinagarThe Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday directed authorities to stop deforestation to prevent flash floods, a growing phenomenon which has claimed several lives and damaged large scale property in the recent past across the state.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also ordered immediate demarcation of forests, wetlands and the national parks in the state.
As the hearing in the PIL started, court perused a status report filed by Principal Chief Conservator Forests, stating that major cause of floods was deforestation and melting of glaciers.
It is imperative that deforestation be stopped as also uncontrolled grazing at high altitudes be also discontinued so that flash floods in forest area is prevented, the court said.
It also appointed Commissioner Secretary, Government Forest Department, as nodal officer for demarcation of forest, wetlands, national parks, etc immediately.
In this regard, the court directed Principal Chief Conservator Forests to file a detailed status report by next date of hearing.
The court also directed Commissioner Secretary of PHE & I&FC department to establish a network of river Jhelum and wetland and sought action plan from him in this regard.
Counsel representing Molvi Peer Noor-ul-Haq, the man who filed the PIL, submitted that wetlands have been totally neglected as a result of which movement of foreign birds to these wetlands has considerably reduced. He has also pointed out to Ministry of Water Resources report which according to him has suggested stopping of unabated drudging of river Jhelum near Zero Bridge as the banks on either sides of the water body have become weak and may collapse.
In the PIL, Molvi Peer Noor-ul-Haq had sought directions to remove encroachments to restore Padshahi canal, an age old irrigation passage which takes off from nallah Sindh near Wayil Bridge in central Kashmirs Ganderbal district, to its original position. Later, the high court expanded the purview of the PIL and issued directions for safeguarding the Jhelum, the lifeline of Kashmir Valley.
On previous hearing, the High Court warned authorities against any lapse in ensuring complete drudging of river Jhelum and removal of encroachments along its course, saying it may definitely give rise to a catastrophe like devastating floods in 2014.
Once a catastrophe has been experienced, the aftermath of catastrophic flood of 2014 have left the scars but at the same time authorities concerned are awakened, therefore, there can be no chance for exhibiting remiss and in case any type of indolence is shown in completing the drudging process at convenient speed coupled with the removal of encroachments, the authorities concerned shall have to be personally answerable, the court had said and expressed hope that the department will leave no make every effort to restore the pristine glory of river Jhelum.
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