HC seeks report on Jehlum flood control scheme, improvement of its embankments

Advocate Shafqat Nazir on behalf of EPG said that a devastating flood threat still exists in Kashmir as there is no change on ground vis a vis improving the strength of river Jehlum embankments
HC seeks report on Jehlum flood control scheme, improvement of its embankments
J&K High Court, SrinagarMubashir Khan/GK File

Srinagar: The High Court has sought within four weeks an action taken report ( ATR) from J&K government indicating any scheme framed for flood control and improvement of embankments of river Jehlum.

Hearing a batch of Public Interest litigations including the one filed by Environmental Policy Group (EPG), a bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Moksha Kazmi also directed the government to show how the funds sanctioned by the Union of India have been utilized for the purpose.

At the very outset Advocate Shafqat Nazir on behalf of EPG said that a devastating flood threat still exists in Kashmir as there is no change on ground vis a vis improving the strength of river Jehlum embankments.

He submitted that the funds said to be more than 250 crores released by the Center have not been utilised by the J&K government. Advocate Nadeem Qadri assisting the Court as Amicus Curie also vented similar concerns before the Court.

T M Shamsi, Assistant Solicitor General of India (ASGI) submitted that the Union of India has provided sufficient funds for the restoration and preservation of the river Jehlum and for control of the floods.

In response to the submissions, the Court said: “This is reflected in the status report filed on behalf of respondent no. 1( Union of India) on 13.01.2022”.

Asifa Padroo,Additional Advocate General (AAG), appearing for the J&K government sought time to submit an ATR.

The Court directed AAG Padroo to seek instructions from the Commissioner Secretary, Irrigation and Flood Control Department and file a status report on an affidavit to be sworn by the Commissioner Secretary himself within a period of four weeks.

“In the event the action taken report is not filed within the aforesaid period, the Commissioner-Secretary would personally appear before the Court on the next date along with the record,” it said.

Prior to these directions , the court noted that there were three Public Interest Litigations initiated regarding river Jehlum- PIL no. 2/2014 Molvi Peer Noor-ul-Haq v. Chief Engineer and another expressing concern regarding embankment of river Jehlum and untreated sewerage water being flown into the River Jehlum,

PIL no. 18/2018 initiated by the Court of its own motion after the devastating floods of 2014 in Kashmir so as to conserve the River Jehlum and PIL no. 8/2017 titled Environmental Policy Group (EPG) v. Union of India and ors seeking directions upon the Union of India and the UT to frame and execute a comprehensive Jehlum restoration and prevention plans on scientific lines.

The Court pointed out that the PIL no. 2345/2006 is in connection with the preservation of Wular Lake and PIL no. 11/2017 is in respect of wet lands are separate and, as such, are directed to be de-linked with the other three PILs.

“ The first three PILs i.e. PIL no. 2/2014, 8/2018 and PIL no. 8/2017 henceforth shall be listed together in which PIL no. 8/2017 would be the leading case and order sheets shall be maintained in it with copies of the same on the other two PILs,” Court said.

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