Srinagar- Jammu and Kashmir High Court has issued notices to government of India and J&K administration on Public Interest Litigation, seeking directions for removing garbage dumped on the banks of Wular Lake, Asia’s largest fresh water lake, in north Kashmir.
A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjay Dhar also sought a status report from the government on the PIL filed by Central Auqaf Committee Tarzoo-Dharnambal, an amalgam of eight Auqaf Committees of the area.
The court passed the directions after hearing Advocate Shafqat Nazir for the petitioners who seek a slew of directions to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the J&K government.
The petitioners also demand that the Municipal Council Sopore be asked to stop dumping of municipal solid waste on the Ramsar wetland site situated at Dharnambal-Ningli Tarzoo in Sopore which falls within the delineated periphery pillars of the Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) and also within the limits of Hygam-Ningli-Tarzoo Tourism Development Authority.
The petitioners also seek a direction to Municipal Council to immediately remove the garbage “illegally dumped” on the spot.
The plea urges for developing the area in planned manner given its huge tourism potential while taking care of the environmental sensitivities. It also prays that a place be identified and subsequently developed in terms of Solid Waste Management Rules for dumping of municipal waste away from the residential and environmentally sensitivity areas.
The petitioners alleges that the Municipal Council Sopore since March this year has started dumping solid waste on the boundary of the Wular Lake against the Solid Waste Management Rules.
The whole place has been converted into a stinky swamp, it reads. “The water from the Wular Lake as also the rainwater wash away the garbage and filth into the Wular Lake and the Jhelum and also into the premises of tourist huts”.
“The area which was earlier identified as the only recreational park was surprisingly converted into a dumping site without following the rules or taking any permission or NOC from the Pollution Control Board or WUCMA.
“Since the land in question belongs to the Forest Department, and comes under the immediate control and management of WUCMA and HNTDA, therefore it was obligatory for the respondent Municipal Council to take prior permission from the said authorities before dumping the municipal waste on the banks of Wular Lake.
“The area is environmentally sensitive and in terms of Wetland Conservation and Management Rules, 2017, no such activity can be undertaken by the respondents in the area under any circumstances.”
“That a Ramsar notified site and prospective tourist destination has been unfortunately converted into an open garbage dumping site notwithstanding the fact that the district administration had earlier identified and earmarked some fifty (50) kanals of land in estate Adipora for dumping of garbage which fact is evidenced by the communication of Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, to Director Urban Local Bodies Kashmir dated 30-07-2019.”
The petitioners said the place is having tremendous tourism potential but because of dumping of solid waste it has been reduced in to a “no-go-zone.”
“Not only the tourist huts constructed at the cost of public exchequer have been rendered useless but the whole area has been polluted by the respondent Municipal Council.”
NGT Also Seeks Report On Wullar Lake
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the authorities in Jammu and Kashmir to file an action taken report on alleged dumping of solid municipal waste in the Wullar Lake.
Hearing an petition filed by social activist Raja Muzaffar Bhat, the NGT on Wednesday directed the collector of Baramulla district and the Pollution Control Board of Jammu and Kashmir to file a factual report and an action taken report by the next date of hearing on October 15.
“In view of the allegation and photographs annexed, we find it necessary to require a factual and action taken report from the member secretary of state Wetland Authority, Collector of Baramulla, and the state Pollution Control Board before the next date,” the tribunal said in a two-page order.
Bhat said that in the absence of waste collection sites in Sopore town of Baramulla district, the municipal authorities there have chosen the western banks of the Wullar Lake around Ningli Tarzoo to dump solid waste.
“I don’t understand how the government officials can make such mistakes. They ought to be aware of the laws governing the wetlands,” he said.
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