Jammu: A Division Bench of the High Court J&K and Ladakh has directed the Senior Additional Advocate General (AAG) S S Nanda to file response of J&K Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC) department within two weeks in case of a petition against diversion of 95 percent river Tawi discharge to Nikki Tawi.
The direction to file response to the fresh Miscellaneous Application (CM No 5009/2023) was passed through virtual mode by the Division Bench, comprising Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice M A Chowdhary, after considering the submissions of advocate S S Ahmed appearing for the petitioners.
Senior AAG appeared for the Irrigation and Flood Control Department of J&K government and advocate Mayank Gupta appeared for the Jammu Smart City Project Limited.
The Division Bench also allowed time to advocate Mayank Gupta to file an updated status report on behalf of Jammu Smart City Project Limited in terms of the previous order issued on July 17, 2023.
The Public Interest Litigation (PIL No 31/2018) was filed by inhabitants of villages Barjala and Khandwal through Gurdev Singh resident of Khandwal and Ghulam Nabi Sheikh, resident of Barjala, highlighting the devastation caused by flash floods during monsoon every year in and around 45 villages in Nikki Tawi area due to more than 95 percent of the discharge of river Tawi in the Nikki Tawi from the fourth bridge (of river Tawi).
Through fresh Miscellaneous Application, the petitioners sought appropriate directions to the Irrigation and Flood Control Department of J&K government to divert the discharge of river Tawi from the fourth bridge (Bhagwati Nagar) to Badi Tawi. The petitioners had submitted that more than 95 percent of the discharge of river Tawi was diverted to Nikki Tawi which was creating havoc every year during monsoon thereby destroying the proprietary land of inhabitants of more than 45 villages in the said area. “Absolutely there is no discharge of river Tawi in Badi Tawi where the land mafia in connivance with Irrigation and Flood Control department have encroached the river bed and with a result the entire damage is done in Nikki Tawi area,” they had alleged.
Advocate Ahmed and advocate Rahul Raina appearing for the petitioners submitted that this year also the monsoon created havoc in the Nikki Tawi area.
“Just across the Nikki Tawi bridge in the river bed at village Sure Chak, a construction company has installed a multipurpose plant and covered a sizeable area. While installing the huge plant, the company raised the bed level of the river where the plant was installed and with the result the flow of the water had diverted towards village Barjala and Khandwal where many buildings including Radha Soami Satsang Ghar, BBAS Institute at Barjala and Gurudwara Sahib at Khandwal besides many residential houses were exposed to the flash floods and the land in these villages was getting into the river thereby causing irreparable loss,” the petitioners had submitted.
The petitioners also placed on record the photographs showing havoc created due to 95 percent discharge of Tawi in Nikki Tawi and also the damage caused in Beli Charana and several other villages there.
Petitioners’ advocate submitted, “The PIL has been pending since June, 2016 and till date the damage control exercise has not been done by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department. Except for laying crates, there is no headway in the matter and the crates get washed away every year due to the insensitive approach of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department of J&K.”
Petitioners’ advocates further submitted, “Despite the completion of the studies on the morphology of river Tawi and Flood Mitigation Programme, the Irrigation and Flood Control Department is sleeping over the matter and indulgence of this court is warranted.”
Upon this, the Division Bench issued notice to the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, which was accepted by Senior AAG who prayed and was granted 2 weeks’ time to file a response to the fresh Miscellaneous Application.
The Division Bench directed the Registry to re-notify the instant PIL on September 25, 2023.