Observing that despite spending of hundreds of crores on conservation of Dal Lake, Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Thursday held that desired results were not seen on ground and directed the government to prioritize issues confronting conservation of the water body.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation on conservation of Dal Lake, a division bench of Justice Ramalingam Sudhakar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey directed the government to upgrade two Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) that are currently treating the effluents flowing into Dal from its adjoining areas.
After hearing Amicus Curie Z A Shah and Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganai, the bench reached the conclusion that things need to be prioritize according to their urgency to meet the challenges to the existence of the Dal Lake.
“We cannot stop waters containing phosphorus but we can treat the water to save the Dal Lake. First priority has to be given to upgrading of existing two STPs and setting up of a new STP,” the bench observed.
Observing that there are more than eight volumes of orders on Dal Lake, the bench said it was disinclined to pass any more order but would seek implementation of orders it has already passed.
Expressing dismay over the government’s remiss in implementation of its orders, the bench said: “Why should monitoring committee wait for orders from the court. Why they don’t act on their own to take steps to safeguard the Dal lake.”
The Amicus told the court that in order to seek proper implementation of the Dal Lake, legislation was thought to provide a perennial solution to the problem. While the court observed that till the legislation comes what requires to be done, Advocate General told the court that there is a government order to take care of the things.
The bench said the purpose of seeking presence of the Chief Secretary last year in the court was to devise some mechanism for finding out an eternal solution to the problems plaguing the Dal Lake and other water bodies. “But things are going with a slow pace. No visible improvement is there on ground”.
While the government today presented before the court Vision document preordered by two professors of Rorkee IIT, on conservation of Dal Lake, the court observed whether it is a project report now called visionary document matters less unless things change on ground.
“We don’t believe in paper work there should be implementation of orders on ground. Since 2002 funds worth hundreds of crores of Rupees have been spent on conservation of Dal lake but the desired results have not been archived,” the court observed.
It said that the opinion of scientific committee is must for conservation of the lake. The Amicus Curie raised the issue that besides the effluents flowing into Dal Lake habitations, there are discharges from houseboats that damage the lake waters. In response to it, AG told the court that there is a tardy approach to shift the house boats to the Dole demb area.
He said despite the fact that funds have already been released for this purpose, the house boats are not being shifted. The AG told the court that Shah being member of the MC should have raised the issues before the committee meeting instead of the court.
Urging it to deliberate upon issue of setting of STPs on first priority, the court asked the MC to hold meeting in this month.