HC seeks info on Jehlum restoration
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the state government to apprise it on the measures for restoration of River Jehlum to its original width.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation seeking to conserve Jehlum and other water bodies in Kashmir, a division bench of Justice MuzaffarHussain Attar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey sought status report from Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control department, indicating as to how banks of River Jehlum are being restored to original width.
The bench said it has off and on underlined the need of protecting and preserving the lifeline of Kashmir.
Directing all deputy commissioners to file fresh compliance report on steps taken to restore River Jehlum the court asked Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control and Deputy Commissioners of Anantnag and Pulwama districts to appear in person on next date of hearing.
"Their presence is required to ensure that River Jhelum is restored to its original width in the shortest possible time and all the encroachments are removed from the banks of the river," the court said.
Observing that the compliance report by Deputy Commissioner Anantnag was "cryptic and vogue", the court directed the officer to file a fresh report indicating places where encroachments have been removed from the banks of the river. The DC was also directed to give details about the original width of the river in Anantnag district as also whether the river has been restored to its original width. The court directed the DC to remain present in person on next date of hearing on June 10.
Observing that the deputy commissioners have resorted to a dilatory approach in restoring Jehlum to its original width, the court said, "It is being reiterated that they are sons of the soil and it is not fair on their part to take the court orders in an important matter non-seriously."
"Have they no conscience of their own to perform the duty they are meant for? They should serve the people by taking issues of importance with gravity," the court observed, asking Additional Advocate General, T H Khawaja, that the officers have to act apace.
Meanwhile, following the perusal of an affidavit filed by petitioner Molvi Peer Noor-ul-Haq along with photographs, the bench said, "We are prima facie satisfied that the concerned authorities who are responsible for removing encroachments and preservation of the Padshahi Canal in central Kashmir are not only playing pranks with the court orders but also with the statute under which they are obliged to remove the encroachments."
While the bench directed the concerned authorities what further action was taken for removing encroachments, it directed Executive Engineer Irrigation & Flood Control, Ganderbal, to appear in person before the court on next date of hearing.
"After hearing the Executive Engineer appropriate orders will be passed for initiating action, both departmental as well as criminal, against all the officers," the court said.
The court directed its Registry to issue bailable warrants against Rs 50000 against the engineers who as per list provided by Chief Engineer I&FC were responsible for restoration of Padshahi Canal.
"The SSP of the concerned district shall be personally responsible to get the warrant executed," the court said.