HC Says Its Orders For Last 16-Years Have Been Of ‘No Avail’

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“This is despite appointment of an Expert Committee and its recommendations. It would appear that a High Level Expert Committee is required to monitor the steps relating to the restoration and preservation of the Dal Lake and their completion.”  

SRINAGAR — Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday said its orders from last sixteen years for preservation and conservation of Dal Lake, the flagship of Kashmir’s Tourism, have been of “no avail” due to official slackness.  

“Court orders for the last sixteen years have been of no avail as the respondents (government) do not appear to have addressed any issue sufficiently to have made any significant impact,” said a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur while hearing a Public Interest Litigation.   

“This is despite appointment of an Expert Committee and its recommendations. It would appear that a High Level Expert Committee is required to monitor the steps relating to the restoration and preservation of the Dal Lake and their completion,” the court added. 

The court said that the PIL has engaged the attention of the Court for a period of almost 16 years and order sheet in the case runs into 13 volumes. 

“A cursory examination thereof would show that the repeated agony has been expressed by the Division Benches with regard to the failure as well as inability of the respondents to take effective steps for discharging their constitutional statutory as well as public law responsibilities,” the court said.

Amongst others, the court said that many issues concerning the health of the lake in the course of proceedings were noted and include uncontrolled development of weeds in the lake “suffocating it.” The other issues include untreated sewage flowing into the lake from the surrounding areas; untreated sewage being release into the Dal Lake from the houseboats, anchored in the lake; lack of sufficient oxygen in the lake “which discourages fish and other organisms to survive”; negative impact on account of dwellers on the lake “which can be addressed only by their re-settlement and rehabilitation”; complaints regarding propriety as well as adequacy of the measures by the State are to be found and catchment area of the Lake getting show on account of inter alia, growth of encroachments and unwarranted constructions besides requirement of protection of streams which supply the waters of the Dal Lake as well as loss of depth of the Dal Lake and effective measures for its dredging/restoration of the depth & its maintenance. 

Meanwhile, the court asked Director Fisheries and the Wildlife Department about the fish population and other lake organisms which used to be found in the Dal Lake “when it was still healthy and as are to be found today.”   

The court also issued a notice to government, seeking its response to a news report within two weeks “positively” that each day, 73% of 201 million liters of sewerage in Srinagar goes untreated into Dal Lake and river Jehlum.

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