Every Water Source ‘Is And Shall Remain’ Govt’s Property: J&K HC

J&K High Court | File Photo

Says No Individual Or Group Can Claim Exclusive Right Over Natural Resources

By M Ahmad

Srinagar- Observing that every water source in the State is and shall remain the property of the Government, the High Court of J&K and Ladakh has held that no individual or group can claim any right to exclusive use of natural resources.

“Under Article 39 of the Constitution of India it is the goal of the State to ensure that the ownership and control of the material resources of the community are so distributed as best to subserve the common good,” a bench of Justice Rajnesh Oswal said, adding, “The respondents (authorities) have undertaken the exercise to ensure fair distribution of the natural resources and no individual or group of individuals can claim any right to exclusive use of natural resources.”

The court made the observations while dismissing a petition, filed by residents of the village Qasba Yar of Shopian district, in which they had sought directions to the authorities not to change, divert or take any water from Yari Kohal (a local water body).  Further, they had sought directions to restrain the authorities from raising and completing the construction of the new Kohal. Further, they had sought directions to the authorities that the water of Yari Kohal be utilized for the purpose of irrigating the local agricultural land, contending that it was the only source of irrigation for their agricultural land and that the authorities, without any “authority and justification”, have started the construction of diversion of Kohal through the Irrigation Division Shopian.

“A perusal of Section 3 of  (Jammu and Kashmir Water Resources (Regulation and Management)) Act, 2010,  reveals that every water source in the State is and shall remain the property of the Government and any proprietary ownership, riparian or usage right on such water resources vested in any individual, group of individuals or any other body, corporation, company, society or community shall, from the date of commencement of the Act, be deemed to have been terminated and vested with the Government,” the court said, adding, “Further, as per Section 4 of the Act of 2010, the Government has been vested with the responsibility to prepare the State Water Policy and Plan for the purpose of satisfying the demand of water for domestic use, agriculture, power, industry, etc.”

“The petitioners (villagers) have no vested right to demand any particular amount of water, particularly when the respondents have already determined the requirement of different villages, as such, the action of the respondents (authorities) for reviving the canal in order to cater to the needs of other villages cannot be termed as illegal, unauthorized and without any justification.”

More so, the court said, the authorities have already taken into consideration the requirement of water for the village Qasba Yar. “As such, this Court is of the considered view that the apprehension of the petitioners is without any basis”.

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