Srinagar- The High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Monday granted J&K government “final opportunity” to file a status report regarding wetlands recognized as that of international importance and declared as Ramsar Sites, observing that the failure on part of the UT administration was a “serious lapse.”
“…In spite of the order passed by this Court on 09.09.2022, the Union Territory of J&K has not yet filed a status report, while the Union Territory of Ladakh has filed the same,” a bench of Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice M.A. Chowdhary said while hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the directions by the Supreme Court.
”Considering the importance attached to the issue and the desire of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to have the matter monitored by this Court, we are of the view that failure to file a status report by the Union Territory of J&K is a serious lapse,” the court said.
However, the court granted a “final opportunity to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to file the status report without fail.”
“Failure to do so will result in appropriate penal action against those responsible for not filing the status report,” the court said.
It also directed the government to indicate status regarding the current condition of Anchar Lake.
The directions followed submissions by Amicus Curiae that the Anchar Lake is in dire situation and needs immediate intervention from the Court for its protection.
There are seven wetlands covered under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and include Hokersar, Wular Lake, Shalbugh and Haigam in Kashmir Valley; Tso Moriri and Tso Kar in Ladakh and Surinsar-Mansar Lakes Jammu.
The High Court, following the directions by the Supreme Court on 3 April 2017, had treated an affidavit filed by the petitioner M K Balakrishnan before the apex court regarding certain wetlands which were covered under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands as PIL.
The Top Court had asked the Chief Justices of the concerned High Courts to treat the affidavit as a suo moto PIL and, if necessary, appoint an amicus curiae to assist the court so as to ensure that the Ramsar Convention sites within their jurisdiction were properly maintained.
The High Court pursuant to the directions registered the affidavit as PIL on its own motion and in its first order on the PIL on 28 August 2018, underlined that the “importance of preservation of Wetlands and Water Bodies cannot be sufficiently emphasized as well as the need to set up a regulatory mechanism for all wetlands so as to maintain their ecological character and ultimately support their integrated management in the three regions of the (then) State (Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh).”
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