DAL LAKE CONSERVATION
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has sought personal appearance of the Commissioner Secretaries of the Planning, Finance and Housing and Urban Development Departments tomorrow to explain the conduct of the government as for the conservation of the Dal Lake is concerned.
The directions were passed today by a division bench of Justice Hasnain Masoodi and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey after perusal of the compliance report submitted by Lakes and Waterways Development Authority vice-chairman Sarmad Hafiz, who was present in the court today.
The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) has said it had been starved of funds and had not received even a penny under the National Lake Conservation Project (NLCP) in the past two years.
In the 14-page comprehensive report, it has been disclosed that out of the balance cost of Rs 40 crore under the NLCP, Rs 15 crore had been released by the Central government to the state government for onward release to LAWDA, but have not been relapsed to LAWDA so far.
“The working season of this financial year is now almost over and not a single penny has been released by the government to the LAWDA under operation and maintenance head of account so far this year,” LAWDA has submitted in its report to the High Court. Under such circumstances, operation and maintenance of assets such as sewage treatment plants, pumping stations and other works definitely suffers and it is difficult for the authority to keep these installations working, the report added.
While the disclosures in the report were being pointed out to the court by amicus advocate Zaffar Shah, the bench observed that under these circumstances, when the hands of LAWDA were tied, how come it could be expected of them to run STPs and take up other works aimed at the conservation of the lake.
“Let the Commissioner Secretaries of the Planning, Finance, and Housing and Urban Development Departments be present in the court tomorrow. There is a lot to explain,” the bench observed before passing the specific direction in this regard.
“If charge of any of these departments is with the Chief Secretary, let him depute the next official in the hierarchy in the department to appear before the court,” the bench further observed.
Earlier, while taking a tough line as far as the preservation and conservation of the Dal Lake is concerned, the High Court had on October 28 directed the Vigilance Commissioner to constitute a special investigation team to probe the allegations of misuse of office and accumulation of assets disproportionate to known sources of income by LAWDA officials responsible for the upkeep of the lake.