HC seeks info about original width of Jehlum

HC seeks info about original width of Jehlum

Except for deputy commissioner Bandipora, no other officer has provided the information to the court

Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Monday directed the concerned deputy commissioners to furnish necessary information to Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FCD), Kashmir, about the original width of river Jhelum in Kashmir, saying in case of failure action would be initiated against them.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation against encroachments on canals in Kashmir, a division bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Janak Raj Kotwal asked the deputy commissioners of Anantnag, Pulwama, Srinagar, Budgam and Baramulla to provide the information to I&FCD in 10 days.

The direction followed after chief engineer I&FCD apprised the court that in order to verify the original width of river Jhelum, he had sent letters to divisional commissioner Kashmir and all concerned deputy commissioners but did not receive any details from these authorities.

“Except for deputy commissioner Bandipora, no other officer has provided the information to the court,” the CE told the court.

The CE further informed the court that lakhs of trees have been cut on the encroached portion of the Jehlum, saying the drive against the encroachments shall continue.

Underlining that due to greed of some people, future generation should not suffer, the court asked the deputy commissioners to show concern for the effort being made to restore the river Jehlum to its original position.

The court sought the compliance report from the deputy commissioners before the next hearing, listing the case in the week commencing February 23.

For effectively removing encroachments from banks of river Jehlum and canals, the court asked Inspector General of Police to provide necessary police protection, if required, to the authorities.

The court today took on record the reply filed by the state Additional Advocate General, M A Chashoo, to the response that the petitioner had filed to the earlier status report.

In response to the allegations leveled by the petitioner in open court against some authorities of the concerned department for not doing away with the encroachments, the court held that it could not take cognizance of these allegations until the petitioner files an affidavit detailing out his grievances supported by material evidence.

While the petitioner submitted that he will file the affidavit within two days, the court asked the state counsel to file response to it thereafter.

Earlier, while observing that river Jehlum is one of the oldest rivers of Kashmir and insatiable human greed is destroying this great river, the court had said “a duty is cast upon the Chief Engineer and other statutory authorities to ensure removal of all encroachments from the banks of river Jhelum along its entire course.”