NGT Raps J&K Over Dumping Waste Into Wetlands, Wular Lake

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Ask Chief Secy To Attend Next Hearing, Seek Action Plan Within One Month

Srinagar: Taking a strong note of unscientific dumping of waste and encroachment around Wular Lake, Hokersar and Kreentchoo-Chandhara wetlands in Jammu and Kashmir, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has sought action plan from the Union Territory government for each of the wetland within one month for further action in a time bound manner.

In an order passed on July 22, the Principal Bench of NGT, New Delhi slammed the action taken report (ATR) submitted by the joint Committee of Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Board (PCB) on January 1, 2021 over the unscientific dumping of waste and encroachment of Hokersar Wetland, Wular Lake and Kreentchoo-Chandhara Wetland in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir. The NGT Court termed the report, which they had sought from PCB, Department of Wildlife Protection and Deputy Commissioners of Budgam, Srinagar and Bandipora, as incomplete saying it does not serve the required purpose.

The NGT court also noted that the report submitted by the MCB has highlighted the major challenges but has not given status of remedial action for the same.

“Let an action plan in respect of each of the wetlands be prepared within one month for action in a time bound manner, with budgetary support and identified accountable persons. The plan may include among others remedial action against weed infestation, sewage discharges, solid waste disposal, encroachments etc,” reads the order passed by the NGT court.

The plan, the Court said may be overseen by the Chief Secretary, J&K in view of the significance of the matter and continued violation of orders of the Honourable Supreme Court.

The Court also asked the Chief Secretary, J&K to remain present in person on the next date, by video conferencing, with compliance status as on October 31, 2021.

The NGT court was hearing the petition filed by prominent RTI activist Dr Raja Muzaffar regarding dumping of Municipal solid waste in Wular Lake and Hokersar wetland, besides illegal encroachment of wetland at Kreentchoo-Chandhara.

The land mafia was eying to grab the Kreentchoo-Chandhara wetland and sell it in the shape of plots. They had even built a Kaccha road to achieve their designs. However, when I moved NGT, the attempt to grab wetland by land mafia stopped,” Muzaffar told Kashmir Observer.

Speaking about Asia's largest freshwater lake Wular, Muzaffar said that the Municipal Council Bandipora was dumping solid waste in the Zalwan village situation along the banks of the lake. He said the practice of dumping solid waste had been going on for nearly a decade.

“Zalwan village is a part of Wular Lake. Municipal Council Bandipora bluntly lied to NGT and told them no solid waste was being dumped in Zalwan village. They also submitted an affidavit about their false claim,” Muzaffar said.

As a result of their “lies”, Muzaffar said, the Jammu & Kashmir Pollution Control Board (PCB) slapped a penalty (environmental compensation) of Rs 64 lacs upon the Municipal Council Bandipora.

Under pressure, he said, the Municipal Council Bandipora identified another place, a part of Wular catchment area, to dump the waste.

“But what the Municipal solid waste rules 2016 say like, segregation of waste, plastic waste management, processing, recycling etc, is not being done at all by the Municipal Council Bandipora. They are relocating the waste, they are not treating it,” he said.

The prominent RTI activist further said that the Municipal Council Bandipora was not alone dumping the waste near the Wular Lake. He said Municipal Council Sopore too was dumping solid waste along the banks of Wular Lake in Ningli village of Sopore.

“This too is a Wular catchment area. The villagers woke up to the rising degradation of the Lake and filed a petition. I too filed another petition. Both these petitions were clubbed,” Muzaffar said, adding a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was also filed by villagers before the J&K High Court.

“It is in the first time of judicial history of J&K that Chief Justice of J&K High Court went to the spot in Ningli Sopore and ordered immediate end to the dumping of solid waste there,” he said.

However, the Municipal Council Sopore, he said, did not stop there. He said that another place, barely a kilometre from Ningli was identified by the MC Sopore to dump solid waste.

“They left wetland and identified a demarcated forest area in Ningli. They also occupied five kanals of Panchayat land even without informing the Panchayat. He said a Gram Sabha also passed a resolution asking MC Sopore to stop dumping waste in the Panchayat Land,” he said.

“Solid waste is also being dumped into Wular Lake from the southern shore near Gandbal village by the Municipal Council Hajin,” he said.

About Hokersar, he said, the locals and the traders of Parimpora Mandi would dump waste in the wetland split between Srinagar and Budgam districts of central Kashmir.

“The dumping of waste and illegal encroachment of Hokersar wetland continues till date. There’s no ward and watch staff to check these acts,” he added.

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