‘Nothing has improved on ground’
Observing that nothing has improved on ground, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has pulled up the state government for being in slumber to avoid 2014-flood like situation.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation seeking preservation of water bodies in Kashmir, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey observed that government’s inefficiency and negligence led to floods in 2014 causing huge havoc by taking many lives and washing away properties.
“But you are still in deep slumber as nothing has improved on ground level. Do not assume that floods occur once in hundreds years,” the court observed.
Expressing dismay over State Water Resources Regulatory Authority not being in place, the bench directed the government to set up within two weeks the Authority comprising a chairman and three members under J&K Water Resources Act 2010.
“The Act is violated because there is no Authority existing under the Act from 2015,” the court observed.
Notably, State Water Resources Regulatory Authority has power to acquire, hold and dispose of property both movable and immovable and the said authority is appointed by the Government on the recommendation of a selection committee.
Seeking their affidavits, the court directed Public Health Engineering (PHE) and Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC) authorities to inform the court as to how the Act had been implemented till today.
Seeking details in tabulated form on what actually was required to be done in phase -1 of river Jehlum conservation and other water bodies, the court said: “At least this phase be completed before September, this year.
“Details of Phase-II be also provided in tabulated form in shape of affidavit by next date,” it added.
In his status report while CE I&FC informed the court that dredging was part of phase-I, the court asked him to increase the holding of water capacity in Wular lake also.
After perusal of the compliance report by CE I&FC that in order to avert disaster like 2014 floods certain short term measures were taken, the court said:”The short term measures are not indicated; File a better affidavit indicating therein what kind of short term measures have been taken”.
In compliance to court directions as to how the agency engaged for dredging was working, the court was informed that the dredging work of the river Jehlum from the mouth of flood spill channel in Mehjoor Nagar to Panzinara in Srinagar amounting to Rs 20.23 crore and out fall channel of river from Sopore to Sheeri Baramulla amounting Rs 26.77 crore, has been alloted to a dredging company of West Bengal.
The court was also apprised that out of total quantity to be dredged out as per the contract is 7 lakh Cums in Srinagar reach and 9.15 lakh cums in Baramulla reach, out of which 2.30 lac cums have been dredged out in Srinagar reach and 2.3 lakh cums in Baramulla reach till date.
On the removal of encroachments at Padshahi Canal, Doodh Ganga, Lidder, Choonti Kul and Ferozpora Nallah, the court was informed that 2800 trees & 38 structures, 16370 trees & 72 structures, 33418 trees & 13 structures, 8040 trees have been removed respectively. The court however observed that constructions were going on banks of river Jehlum.