Dal Conservation | Submit ATR on land acquisition Act, action against LAWDA officials: HC to Govt

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J&K High Court has asked the government to inform it about action taken on a proposal by an expert group on Dal and Nigeen lakes regarding introduction of Special Act or Ordinance on land acquisition and action against “errant official” of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA).

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Puneet Gupta, sought Action Taken Report (ATR) from Chief Secretary regarding a ‘special note’ by the Committee of Experts on the lakes in which need for the Special Act or Ordinance about land acquisition as well as suitable penal action against the officials was proposed. 

The Court also directed Tourism department to install mini Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) near Nehru Park following J&K Pollution Control Board’s report that the water quality of Dal on two vital parameters –Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Dissolved Oxygen (DO) – has deteriorated near the point as well as at the water channel gate of Royal Golf Spring Course. 

The Court also directed Collector LAWDA to provide details as regards delay in acquisition proceedings as well as cases pending in courts to Principal District Judge Srinagar.

The direction came after the Court’s perusal of a report filed by Vice Chairman (VC) LAWDA which pointed out that “an important issue which is causing delay in taking measures for addressing the flow of untreated sewage into the Dal and the issue of severe delay in the rehabilitation process”.

The VC pointed out that the delay was due to incompletion of the land acquisition proceedings including litigation which were pending before the district courts at Srinagar.

He said the delay in completing the acquisition has also impeded laying trunk sewer lines and setting up of the STPs.

“The Collector, LAWDA, shall prepare complete details regarding delay in acquisition proceedings which have been initiated and are pending at the level of Collector, LAWDA and complete details of land acquisition cases including details of the courts,” the Court said.

It asked the Collector to furnish the details to Principal District Judge, Srinagar. “It is directed that cases involving any aspect of acquisition of land which is required for any Dal Lake related matter, including rehabilitation project, shall proceed on a day-to-day basis, unless the same has to be adjourned for a longer period for reasons which shall be recorded by the court concerned,” the Court said.

It said Principal District Judge Srinagar, being the Nodal Officer, shall be responsible for ensuring that the order was communicated to all courts.

The Court also asked him to monitor the proceedings in this regard. It further directed the Principal District Judge, Srinagar to also take steps for consolidation of all matters relating to Dal Lake in one court to ensure that there was no conflict of judgment and that the cases were decided expeditiously.