HC disbands all panels on Dal Lake conservation

Disbanding all the committees constituted on Dal Lake, Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed Vice-Chairman Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to draw a complete scheme for the management and development of Dal as well as the area around it in co-association with various departments.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul while doing away with the committees held that the entire responsibility should be shifted upon development authority which has been created for this purpose. 

The Authority alone, the court said, should be allowed to work out a broad scheme for solving all the problems as highlighted above in connection with the Dal.  

While disbanding the committees that were created in the past in relation to the Public Interest Litigation, the court said a fresh committee or committees would be constituted in future, if necessary.

The Court directed VC LAWDA to survey and prepare a list of all the drains flowing into Dal and take immediate steps to prevent discharge of drain water and the effluents into the Dal.

The Court also directed the Authority to ensure proper arrangements are made by the Department concerned for the treatment of the sewage or the drain water in sufficient number of plants established at proper places.

While the court held that an exercise may be undertaken to find out if the waste material from any houseboat is being discharged into the lake, it asked for taking measures to stop it or to divert it to some alternative place, if so.

The Court also asked the LAWDA to formulate a scheme for the development and the beautification of the Char Chinar and ensure the security thereon.

“Appropriate measures are also required to be taken for the traffic management in and around the Dal area, especially on the Boulevard Road and the Jetty at Nehru Park,” the court said.

The court emphasized that in line with its earlier orders, no construction activities in the Dal or its prohibited area should be permitted and steps would be taken for the removal of all the encroachments.

While the court asked the Advocate General D C Raina to supervise all the exercise to be undertaken by the LAWDA and ensure that a proper scheme and the road map is presented before it, it said senior advocate Zaffar Shah is sufficient as one Amicus Curiae to assist the Court. Shah, the court said, is permitted to have the assistance of any one of his colleagues, if necessary.

“In case there is any other person appointed as an Amicus Curiae in this litigation his appointment would be treated to have come to an end with immediate effect”. 

Meanwhile the court held that all applications for the release of vehicles seized for carrying building material in violation of its directions henceforth would be filed before the concerned Magistrate who is dealing or is supposed to deal with the investigation pursuant to the relevant FIR.  The Court however said the magistrate would not release the vehicle without asking for security of Rs 50,000 in the case of first offence and Rs 1 lakh in the case of second offence. “In the event the offence is repeated for the third time, the vehicle shall not be released until and unless the final report is submitted and accepted and the accused is acquitted in the trial,” it said. 

The Court passed these directions on the Public interest litigation titled Syed Iqbal Tahir Geelani v State of J&K while hearing senior advocate Zaffar Shah as Amicus Curiae and the Advocate General D C Raina. It also heard Tufail Matto VC LAWDA who was present.

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