'Consider suggestions to make LAWDA independent body'

The J&K High Court on Thursday asked the Chief Secretary to consider suggestions of Committee of Experts (CoE) on Dal Lake to make Lakes and Waterways development Authority (LAWDA) independent body.    

While going through the report by the CoE, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Sanjeev Kumar held that the panel has suggested a draft legislation to restructure LAWDA to make it a compact, independent, professionally and a technically viable body, with clear role, responsibilities and accountability.

“Let this order be placed before the Chief Secretary for taking a considered view on the suggestions of the Committee,” the Court said. 

 In its report the CoE has said that LAWDA was the most appropriate authority to be made responsible and accountable for two lakes in the summer capital Srinagar – Dal and Nigeen.

The expert panel has also suggested that the Authority has to be free from control and dominance of the line department and its status has to be upgraded through empowerment.

The LAWDA, the panel said, should be headed by a competent technocrat/bureaucrat of impeccable integrity with technical experience and track record.

The panel further suggested that the officer should be of the rank of a Principal Secretary and should be delegated full statutory authority and powers to handle all the problems. 

The panel has recommended that VC LAWDA should report directly to the Lt Governor just as the Delhi Development Authority reports to the LG Delhi.

“A realistic assessment of the funds needed for the restoration of the lake has to be made and requisite funds should be kept at the disposal of VC LAWDA from year to year” the panel said. 

The committee has estimated Rs 1500 crore for next three years for restoration of the water body including its dredging.

The panel has further suggested that the VC should strengthen his organization with competent experts selected from “open market”, if needed.

“The performance of VC LAWDA will be reviewed by the Committee every fortnight,” the panel said.