High Court calls for time-bound plan to free encroachments on Wular

High Court calls for time-bound plan to free encroachments on Wular
File photo of J&K High CourtMubashir Khan/ GK File

Srinagar, Sep 24: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has sought a report from Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) attesting to the timeframe within which over 380 kanals of encroached land of Wular lake would be retrieved.

The division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul sought to know about the time schedule within which Wular lake would be made encroachment free after it went through an action taken report filed by the Chief Executive Director, WUCMA.

As per the report the net area of the Wular Lake at present is 130 square Kilometers and “642 kanals 01 marla of land (around 0.3 sqkm) has been encroached upon”.

“Out of the said encroached land about 261 kanals 10 marlas have been retrieved and the authority is in the process of retrieving the balance of 380 kanals 11 marlas (0.19 sqkm),” the report said.

The report indicated that the Wular Lake was fully demarcated with geo-tagged and concrete boundary pillars fixed all over the periphery of the Lake.

The Bench, which was hearing a Public interest Litigation (PIL) by Kashmir Environmental Protection seeking conservation and protection of Wular lake said : “The director in his report has not specified as to the timeframe within which the remaining encroachments shall be removed. We direct the Authority to come clean on the time schedule within which the remaining encroachments shall be removed and lake made encroachment free”.

In regard to Rs 200 crores provided for conservation and management of the Wular lake, , South Asia’s one of the largest freshwater bodies, the report confirmed to court that according to the Wular Action Plan nearly 124.825 crores have been spent on survey & demarcation, catchment area treatment, water management, biodiversity conservation, ecotourism development and institutional development.

Advocate Nadeem Qadri, amicus in the case, however submitted that under certain heads nothing has been done by the authorities so far. “As such, there is no question of spending any money under these heads” he said.

The amicus curiae pointed out that there are nearly 33 villages around the lake and that the Authority has not taken any steps to ensure that no garbage from these villages is dumped into the lake area.

The amicus said that despite a huge amount of Rs 200 crores having been provided for the conservation and preservation of the lake, the Authority has not engaged full time officials and officers for this purpose.

The Court permitted the amicus curiae to file his objections to the action taken report and put forth his suggestions separately for the improvement of the lake. It listed the PIL for further hearing on November 10.

In the meantime the Court asked Sr AAG, B A Dar to file a report indicating clearly the sanctioned strength of the staff of the WUCMA and number of persons employed to show that the Authority is really interested in taking effective steps for conservation and preservation of the Wular lake.

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