Examine possibility of declaring Dal lake as eco-sensitive zone: HC to government

The High Court has directed the government to examine the possibility of declaring Dal lake area formally as eco sensitive zone’ under the Environment Protection Act. 

A division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan asked the Secretary Forest and Environment department to place a report in this regard before the court appointed Committee of Experts (COE) within four weeks.

 The direction came following the suggestions by the members of COE – Elattuvalapil Sreedharan, Dr Nivedita P Haran, Dr  Mangu Singh and Mr M C Mehta- who were present in the court.    

 “We have had also the benefit of a detailed power point presentation by the experts,” the bench said. On consideration of the submissions made by the COE, the court issued several directions. 

The court directed the Secretary Department of Tourism to examine the suggestions of COE for developing the Dole Demb as a Tourist Centre, saying the measures suggested by the expert panel in this regard shall be seriously examined and report submitted to It (COE). 

Over the frequent changes  in the appointment of Vice Chairman LAWDA within last six months as pointed out by COE, the court observed that the work being undertaken by LAWDA is of extremely serious nature. “We request the Chief Secretary to look into the matter of appointment of Vice Chairman, LAWDA, who would be an officer of sufficient seniority and experience on a continuous tenure”.   

The court also directed the Surveyor General of India, Survey Office Dehradun, to undertake a survey of the Dal Lake, examine all available maps and draw linkage to existing revenue maps and place a report regarding the demarcation of the boundary of the lake.

“Such exercise be completed within four weeks from the date of receipt of copy of this order”.

 The court said it shall be the responsibility of the Secretary Revenue to place all available maps and the revenue maps available with the Surveyor General of India within one week.

 The State Government and LAWDA, it ordered, shall facilitate examination of the boundaries to be undertaken by the Surveyor General of India.

“ LAWDA shall submit an inventory of the land owned by it to the Committee of Experts as well as measures which would be undertaken to protect the same”. 

Moreover the court directed the State Government to formulate a proper policy for rehabilitation of the Dal Dewllers. “This matter be examined by the Chief Secretary of the State and a report in this regard be also placed before the Committee of Experts at the earliest”.

 The court also sought a report from Department of Tourism of the State as well as LAWDA regarding the unregistered house boats in the Dal Lake and the manner in which they would be removed.

 Meanwhile the court accepted the recommendations made by the Committee in its 5th Report and directed all the authorities to take prompt and expeditious steps to implement the same.