HC Asks Govt To Prepare Roadmap For Relocation Of Houseboats  

SRINAGAR – The Jammu and High Court on Tuesday directed the authorities to prepare a road map for proper rehabilitation of Dal dwellers and relocation of Houseboats registered with the LAWDA.

An expert committee constituted by the court has counted houseboats and floating gardens among premier sources of pollution to the Dal Lake, the flagship of Kashmir Tourism.

“It is estimated that a population of around 40,000–70,000 resides in the Dal interiors, in the hamlets, in pucca and kuchha houses, in the constructions that are adjunct to the house-boats, in the house-boats and in the dunga boats. The sewage generated by all these persons, including night soil, sullage and solid waste are all released into the Lake,” said the committee comprising among others Dr. Nivedita P. Haran (former Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department, Government of Kerala); Dr. Mangu Singh, CEO, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation; M. C. Mehta, Renowned Environmentalist from the Jammu and Kashmir and Elattuvalapil Sreedharan (IES Retd., Former Chairperson, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation  Member, Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board).

According to latest figures, the committee said, the Dal Lake hosts 910 registered houseboats. On an average 16 guests and four service persons reside on each houseboat when fully rented.

These houseboats do not have any sewage facility and therefore discharge all waste that includes night soil, solid waste and sullage into the Lake, the committee said. “There are also 140 dunga boats that house those persons who service the houseboat and where the cooking, etc. for the guests is done.”

While hearing PIL on restoration and conservation of Dal lake, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan also directed the authorities to develop the place where Dal dwellers are being shifted on modern lines as huge townships has been built so that it should equipped with all facilities.

After perusal of the report of Committee of Experts, the court said it reflects the tremendous efforts being put in by the Committee of Experts and termed the suggestions made by them as laudable.

The court however expressed its serious concern over non-filing any Action Taken Report with regard to the previous court directions or the suggestions made by the Committee of Experts before the court.

It has also sought a latest status with regard to functioning of the Sewage Treatment Plants of the lake and sought a report about the management of solid waste by the hotels, restaurants and shops which are located around the lake.

In this connection, the court directed the LAWDA and SMC to ensure the solid waste be segregated at source.

The Court also dispensed with the earlier court commissioners comprising a retired Sessions judge and a retired deputy superintendant of police for the time being and instead appointed Principal District and Sessions Judge Srinagar as nodal officer between the State, Committee of Experts and Amicus Curie to ensure implementation of directions passed by the court.

The court directed all the authorities including PCB, Police, SMC, LAWDA to ensure providing of cooperation and assistance as and when required by the Committee of Experts. The Court has also sought status on finalization of Solid Waste Management bylaws.

“We direct all the authorities and departments to ensure prompt cooperation and action in response to any suggestion, direction made by the Committee of Experts or request from the LAWDA with regard to any aspect relating to subject matter of consideration by this Court or the Committee of Experts,” the court directed.

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