Drive to remove waterlily from Dal shall continue at ‘enhanced pace’: HC 

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday directed Lakes and Waterways Development Authority to continue with ‘enhanced pace’ its drive to remove water lilies in Dal Lake even as it sought details about the fish species with their relative population in the water body, a flagship of Kashmir’s tourism.   

As the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation started, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey were informed by LAWDA by September 23, 0.8 SqKms of Lake surface have been cleared of the lilies as against 0.3 SqKms on previous occasion. 

The court ordered that drive shall continue on “enhanced” level now and further progress shall be reported before the court by submitting a status report. 

The court also ordered that proper arrangements should also be made for utilizing the huge amount of biomass in the form of lily pads and weeds which are removed from the lake. It said that the Department of Agriculture and Production may be roped in for utilizing the same for fertilizer and animal fodder.  

The court also observed from the status report, that local variety of fish especially Schizothoracids, which were original habitants of the lake, have declined in number while common carp has thrived. The court was also informed that there are 16 fish species and the department of fisheries takes regular stocking and augmentation of the waterbody with the quality fish seed of desirable size.

“If this was the case, then the reduction in the population of Schizothoracids should not have taken place,” the court said. Besides seeking details about fish species and their relative population, the court also directed fisheries department to curb illegal fishing. It also directed the department to revisit policy for issuing licenses for the fishing and observed that there should be separate criteria for fisherman and for recreational fishing. 

The Court also directed Inspector General of Police Kashmir to issue instructions for making available police personnel “immediately” when Vice chairman LAWDA as and when he requisitions for same for the drive against illegal encroachers of world famous Lake.

The court passed the directions after it was informed that during a meeting chaired by Chief Secretary on August 31 regarding strengthening of the enforcement wing of LAWDA, police authorities objected in keeping 45 to 50 personnel at the disposal of LAWDA because of paucity of personnel who may be required for “law and order duties.” 

The court said that immediate response to the requisition by the VC was necessary because if prior information was given, it might get leaked out and the drives to be undertaken by LAWDA may meet public resistance. 

Regarding, the 3D modelling of the floor of the Dal Lake, the LAWDA informed the court that the demo has been now been fixed for the week commencing October 9. “A status report with regard to the same be submitted before the next date of hearing,” the court said.

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