High Court directs LAWDA to act promptly against encroachments in Dal Lake

Observing that it shall have to dispel impression that it is not a party to the encroachments, Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday asked Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to act dedicatedly against encroachments in and around Dal Lake here to save the water body for posterity.
“By dedicated activities and action with commitment, they shall have to dispel impression among the masses that they are not party to the encroachments,” a division bench of Justices Muhammad Yaqoob Mir and Dhiraj Singh Thakur said.
The bench which was hearing a Public Interest Litigation on preservation of Dal lake, also held that it is the responsibility of every one save Dal. “Preservation and protection of Dal Lake is a collective responsibility of all, be it the State, its instrumentalities or citizens. Everyone has to contribute a bit so that the glory of the Dal is not tarnished any further”.
The court while urging the LAWDA to create an atmosphere sending out a strong signal that it would not hesitate in razing illegal encroachments in any form, held: “Structures are illegally raised, portions of water bodies are filled and when same reaches to a particular level, thereafter initiation of action is questionable.”
Observing that the perception in public that there is nexus somewhere in allowing illegal structures in and around the Dal Lake, the court said such impressions can be dispelled only when authorities of the LAWDA at every level- collectively and individually- exhibit commitment to save the Dal Lake so as to make everyone believe that they will not tolerate and encroachment or raising of illegal structures.
Pointing out that stern action with promptitude would be hailed, the court said by dedicated activities and action with commitment, they (LAWDA) shall have to dispel impression among the masses that they are not party to the encroachments.
“With great pain we are persuaded to observe that in case strong commitment is not exhibited and stern action is not taken against the encroachers, our posterity may lose to see the world famous water body Dal Lake. We are sure and confident that same will not be allowed to happen,” court observed.
It hoped that that the Monitoring Committee would meet at regular intervals and take prompt decisions to advance the object for which it has been constituted to save the Dal and restore its pristine glory.
In compliance to earlier directions of court, VC LAWDA in his status report has said that Monitoring Committee constituted in 2016 was monitoring the progress of various approved ongoing works and the Vision Document prepared had been e-mailed to all the members of Scientific Advisory Committee for their comments and views.
The report revealed that the Monitoring Committee has approved upgradation of one STP and has also agreed for establishment of common STP with futuristic capacity and in this regard proposal for accord of administrative approval has been submitted to the Government. The court, however, sought the latest status about approval of the proposal before next date of hearing.
In the meeting of the Monitoring Committee the issue regarding sewage treatment has been prioritized apart from finalization of the issue regarding upgradation of existing 3 old STPs and setting up of a common STP was proposed for uncovered areas of Nishat, Shalimar, Harwan, Teilbal, Batapora and Zakoora.
On formulation of comprehensive legal frame work for the enactment of a strong legislation for the preservation of all water bodies in the State the Monitoring Committee has suggested that the comments from the concerned departments as well as members be obtained.
After receiving the comments, the Monitoring Committee said, the law department would examine and vet the draft bill and put it before the Panel in its next meeting. The draft bill, the Panel said, can, thereafter, be put to the public domain for seeking comments and suggestions.
With regard to Constitution of the Scientific Advisory Committee, the Monitoring Committee has taken a decision to call for a meeting of the Scientific Advisory Committee on a date convenient for maximum participation of the members. Senior Advocate and Amicus Curie Z A Shah, it said, has also desired to participate in the meeting.
The Panel has decided that the members be requested again for their comments on Vision Document.
With regard to arresting of sewage, the report revealed that the Monitoring Committee has decided that its Member Secretary will certify that no further sewerage network is required for stopping any untreated sewage going into the lake from its periphery upon completion of the projects.
On Strengthening of the Enforcement wing, the panel has decided that its Member Secretary will ensure that the tender for CCTV cameras was finalized. After perusing the report by LAWDA, the court sought latest status on all the matters before next date of hearing.
The Court also suggested that for effectual control of encroachments and for stopping any material to be carried into peripheries of the Dal, a mobile flying squad be created constituted so that any activity, disadvantageous to the Dal Lake, which may include any construction, filling up of any portion of water body if noticed is stopped right at its inception.
“Strong action plan for restoration of Dal Lake to its actual position in a systematic manner has to be evolved. Stern action against the encroachers by LAWDA authorities, officers and official will be appreciated and shall be supported by all administrative agencies including the police.”

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