HC asks official to bring along flood action plan on next hearing

Dismayed over the inertia to formulate an action plan to prevent floods like the one that created havoc in 2014, the High Court on Monday directed Commissioner Secretary PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control to present himself in the court on June 4 and bring along the action plan.      

A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice TashiRabstan directed the Secretary to submit the action plan as nodal officer.  

The bench was hearing two separate PILs, one by Environmental Policy Group (EPG) and the other by Moulvi Peer-Noor-ul-Haq, through teleconferencing from the official residence of the Chief Justice who could not attend the proceedings in the court due to ill health.

As soon as the matter came up for hearing, FaizBakshi and S Nasrullah on behalf of the EPG, and the other petitioner Peer-Noor-ul-Haq, informed the court that irregularities have been committed in the dredging of the Jhelum and other water bodies. 

“If there would not have been irregularities, the Governor would not have constituted a committee to enquire into irregularities of dredging of Jhelum,” the petitioners pleaded.

State’s senior Additional Advocate General, however, submitted that 90 percent of the dredging has already been completed successfully “without any irregularity”.  

The petitioners further pleaded that a flood threat is looming large as regions of Kashmir have experienced a great deal of snow this year and there have been frequent rainfall.  

Following the submission, the court directed the authorities concerned to file details of the locations on a physical map where dredging has been carried out and place the same before it on June 4.

With regard to geo-mapping of pre-existing waterways to enable the authorities to interlink the waterways, the court observed “it appears the geo-mapping has not even begun”. 

The court underscored that the orders passed by it in the related PILs and the status reports filed indicated that the government has no action plan even with regard to prevent the floods like that of 2014. 

The court said while the status reports placed on record only relate to dredging of existing waterways, it added:  “The record suggests that there may be encroachments in the pre-existing waterways which would require to be removed so as to ensure no flood takes place.” 

The court held that nearly five years have elapsed since 2014 floods and the government has failed to come up with an action plan to save the people from floods. 

Meanwhile, the court ordered that its orders dated 27, 28 August 2018, 4 February 2019 and the order it passed today be placed before the Chief Secretary of the state for urgent examination and a report be submitted in this regard before the court.