SRINAGAR The J&K High Court on Thursday directed a three-member expert committee to visit the Dal lake as soon as possible and submit the report to the court.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of the court headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal ordered that Mangu Singh , CEO Delhi Metro Rail Corp shall be third member of the committee instead Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, (IES Retd., Former Chairperson Delhi Metro Rail Corporation and Member, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrinie Board) who has expressed his inability to continue with the assignment.
The other members include Dr Nivedita P. Haran, IAS (Retired), Former Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Govt. of Kerala and M. C. Mehta, Renowned Environmentalist, who hails from the Jammu and Kashmir State.
The high court has already set out detailed terms of reference of the Committee of Experts besides passed other 21 directions for the panel to comply with.
As per terms of reference, the expert panel has been asked to ascertain the status of the Dal Lake; ascertain all measures required to be undertaken for its restoration, maintenance and preservation as well as all ancillary issues including securing the banks of the Dal Lake; see into re-settlement, relocation and rehabilitation of persons residing or carrying on business on its banks or in the Dal Lake (say in Houseboats etc.,) and their rehabilitation and drawing strict time lines from issuance of NITs to completion of work and monitoring the execution.
Digital mapping of the Lake and land concerned with the project, if already undertaken at different times, shall be placed before the Committee of Experts. Digital monitoring as would be directed by Committee of Expert would be undertaken, the court said, adding, Any other issue or matter noted by the Committee as being in the interest of the Dal Lake.
The court also directed that the Committee shall undertake a comprehensive review of the steps taken so far by the Monitoring Committee as well as the Vigilance Committee with regard to all matters relating to the Dal Lake.
“This Committee shall stand empowered to appoint any National or International Expert(s) they deem necessary to facilitate its task. The renumeration/ retainership and expenses payable to such experts shall be determined by the members of the Committee after discussion with the Chief Secretary who shall ensure that the needful towards payment is undertaken.
The Committee shall examine any other issue opined by the experts appointed by it or which is revealed during the examination of the matter by the Committee essentially for improvement of the conditions in the Dal Lake and all person in or surrounding the Dal Lake or dependent upon the Dal Lake in any manner, it said. All cooperation shall be given by all persons who have been associated in any capacity with any matter relating to the Dal Lake
The committee, the court said, shall be open for the Expert Committee to have meetings with the Vigilance Commissioners as well as the Monitoring Committee in order to evaluate the work which has been undertaken so far. The Vigilance Commissioners and the members of the Monitoring Committee shall render full cooperation to the Expert Committee.
The Expert Committee shall make recommendations with regard to steps for improvements/ changes/ alternatives of the measures underway as may be necessary; direct the implementation thereof and monitor execution till completion, it said further. Given the availability of electronic modes of communication, it shall be open for the members of the Committee to conduct inter & intra committee meetings utilizing video conferencing, skype or any other electronic mode of communication as well, the court said, adding, The deliberations and meetings with any other expert(s) or authority may also be conducted in the like manner.
The members of the Committee shall be at liberty to appoint any person for affording secretarial assistance for each of them and charges towards such secretarial assistance shall be fixed by the Committee and informed to the Chief Secretary, it said. The members of the Committee at the outset shall be paid an initial amount of Rs.5 lakhs each towards reading and preparation charges. (xi) The members of the Committee shall be paid an amount of Rs. 1 lakh for each physical meeting conducted by them and Rs.50,000/- for deliberations conducted using the electronic mode.
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