‘More Money And More Money, No Action’

Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Tuesday said it would be ‘constrained’ to issue direction of “coercive nature, if “all authorities concerned” fail to take appropriate action to shift house boats from Dal Lake, the flagship of Kashmir tourism.  

“The shifting of house boats to Dole Demb area has not made any progress at all,” said a Division Bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey while hearing a Public Interest Litigation which was filed in 2002.

To submissions by the counsel for the LAWDA, the court said: “You never felt these difficulties with regard to land acquisition and others. Do not hide anything. The project was cleared by the cabinet. You had to implement it.”  

The counsel said that the revision of detailed project report (DPR) has changed and the government has to keep a provision for it. “We have submitted a proposal to the government,” he said. To this, the court responded: “More money and more money, no action.” 

“The directions (regarding shifting of the house boats) were given as far as in 2015. The entire plan was approved by the cabinet, yet no action has been taken,” the court said, adding, “We are now informed by the LAWDA that a fresh DPR has been submitted for entire Dal Lake which includes the dole demb area as an integral part of the scheme for shifting the house boats.”

 The DPR was pending with House and Urban Development Department, counsel for LAWDA informed.

“The same has to be approved and then forwarded to central government for final approval,” he said.

Subsequently, the court directed the H&UDD to expedite the process. “Pendency of the DPR would not in any manner would hamper the continuance of the earlier project for which funds have already been received and funds deposited with allied departments for carrying out the work,” the court said.

Referring to its 14 October 2015 order, the court said that the government infirmed that the process of shifting of the house boats would be carried in phased manner. “The first phase required shifting of 76 house boats and even that has not been done,” the court said and directed “all authorities concerned” to take up the issue expeditiously and “seriously” and file status report.  “If appropriate action is not taken, we may be contrained to issue directions of the coercive nature,” the court said.           

The court said that many of the spring are said to be located at some distance from Dal Lake. “Since the water levels was low when the samples were taken. It could not identify channels/ spring connecting to the springs,” the court said, adding, “The LAWDA shall undertake exercise to identify the tradition routes for springs being connected to Dal Lake. The status report be filed by next date (March 6).”

In so far as re-emergence of Lillipad was concerned, the court directed LAWDA to be vigilant and take immediate steps in February and March to curtail their reappearance.      

With regard to recommendations of the Scientific Advisory Committee  (SAC)  meeting minutes with regard to regularization of the staff of LAWDA, the court directed the H&UDD to take up the issue immediately. “The learned counsel appearing for the Housing and Urban Development department shall take up the matter immediately so that process of regularization is expedited. The proposal shall be immediately sent by LAWDA to the said department”.    

While the court was informed that tender for two high powered aerators has been floated, it asked the LAWDA to remain vigilant with regard to re-emergence of lily pads.

Regarding environmental impact assessment study in connection with the proposed four laning of the Boulevard, the stats report submitted by the VC LAWDA indicated that the matter was discussed in the 13th Monitoring Committee meeting and that the government has agreed to carry out the Environmental Impact Assessment study through NEERI for an early response.

However, the report said, Chairman of the MC desired that the project cost be reduced and the environmental impact assessment study of western road should also be accommodated within the same allotted budget.

LAWDA had also requested NEERI for early response and NEERI had assured to start the impact assessment work within a week’s time. The court was informed that NEERI has issued a letter to LAWDA indicating that they are planning to mobilize the team around the 2nd week of the current month.      

With regard to procurement of machinery, the court was informed that the matter was placed before the cabinet which has taken a decision. “ We are unclear as to the back ground in which the said decision was taken with regard to appointment of global expert and the consideration of the out sourcing the work on PPP basis,” the court said.

The court directed principal secretary of Housing and Urban Development department to file an affidavit indicating the back ground of the said decision and rationale behind it.

The court said it is giving the direction because in its view the primary job is of the Authority which of course functions under the control of the government” It appears that the modality suggested by the cabinet would sidestep the authority ( J&K LAWDA Act , 1970. However any direction has to be in sync with the said Act”. 

The court however said there should not be any delay in procurement of the machinery as the same will undo whatever has been done during the previous year.

The Court also directed Housing and Urban Development Department to inform it about what it has done with regard to the proposal submitted by LAWDA pertaining to Khushalsar, Gilsar and Anchar lakes.

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