Tussle hits Hokersar water channel restoration
I&FC, Wildlife Deptts Face-Off Over Public Safety
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Dec 25: Restoration of an important water channel in Hokersar Wetland has brought the Departments of Irrigation and Flood Control, and Wildlife at loggerheads with each other even as the initiative concerns public safety and could help in saving human lives during floods.
Irked by ‘frequent obstructions’ by the Wildlife Department in the Channel’s restoration, the I&FC Department has shot a notice to the Wildlife Warden Wetland Division Hokersar-Narbal by virtue of newly enacted Water Resources Act, threatening legal action if restoration of the channel was hampered.
In a bid to facilitate smooth flow of Jhelum waters into Wullar lake, the I&FC Department had earlier this year started work for restoration of a channel along the Old Age alignment through the Hokersar Wetland. However, officials alleged the Wildlife Department has stopped the work without citing any concrete reason.
“The forcible obstruction caused in the important work channel across Hokersar along old age- alignment has tended to huge loss to the department inspite that your department was kept aware of every action proposal to be adopted beforehand. The unwarranted action initiated by your department is against the Water Resources (Regulation and Management) Act-2010,” Executive Engineer Flood Spill Channel Division Narbal writes in the notice (FSCDN/4877-97), a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir, to the Wildlife Warden Hokersar.
“The Department of Wildlife shall be made responsible for any loss, damage which will be caused by floods in the Capital City of Srinagar and its adjoining villages and areas because of the obstruction caused by your office in execution of the Channel across Hokersar which has got defunct with the passage of time. The flood is forecasted any time up to 2011-12 as per the flood frequency chart in the Valley of Kashmir and the management of flood has become inevitable for the department to save people from any devastation,” it states.
The notice states that in exercise of the powers vested by virtue of the Water Management Resources –Act 2010, the Department is empowered for development, management, construction, alteration, extension and flood management in the Valley.
“The Government has felt necessary to take measures for the purpose of protecting the life and property from danger caused by the floods. It is as such impressed upon that the obstruction caused be removed forthwith and the staff be directed not to indulge or interfere in the execution of the vital project, which is an offence and liable for punishment under section 139,156 and 168 of the Water Resources Act-2010,” it maintains.
The notice warns that “in case of violation and any obstruction cause by your office or staff shall be booked under the Water Resources Act through the Water Resources Regulatory Authority. Your obstruction will culminate in loss of life in case of impending flood which shall be attributed to your department.”
When contacted, the Wildlife Warden Wetland (Kashmir Division), GA Lone said the restoration of the Channel has been stopped as the Department of Irrigation and Flood Control has failed to complete the requisite formalities.
“The I&FC Department has to seek proper permission from our senior officers for restoration of the Channel as it flows through the Hokersar Wetland,” Lone said.
However, he maintained that under section 36 (2) of the Wildlife Protection Act flow of water can only be diverted for better management of the Conservation Reserve.
The Chief Engineer (I&FC), Mir Najeeb-ul-lah said the department has completed all the formalities. “Restoration of the Channel is part of a centrally-sponsored scheme to save the Srinagar City and its adjoining districts from floods. The project has been approved after obtaining all the technical and environmental clearances nearly eight months ago. I don’t see any ground for the Wildlife department to halt the important project. If the Wildlife department continues to obstruct our work, we will be compelled to initiate legal action against its erring officials by virtue of Water Resources Act,” Najeeb-ul-lah said.
Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Dec 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 25 Dec 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 26 Dec 2010 00:00:00 IST
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