HC seeks details of funds spent on Dal conservation since 2002


The High Court on Monday directed the government to furnish details about the funds spent by the central and state government on the conservation of Dal lake since 2002.   
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation seeking conservation of Dal Lake, a division bench of chief justice Gita Mittal and Justice D S Thakur directed senior additional advocate general B A Dar to list out the projects for which the disbursement was made, the date and the amount thereof.  
The court asked also the state counsel to give the date of completion of the work and the present status by 17 September. 
Moreover, the court sought details from director fisheries and Wildlife department about the fish species and other organisms habituated by the healthy Dal years ago as well as now.    
It also sought to know about the relevant authority to furnish details about the bird population which was surviving on the lake. 
The court sought information about the rehabilitation of dwellers who were required to be relocated from the lake and whether the persons who have been granted re-settlement allotments have moved to the allotted sites and the land occupied by them was has been retrieved.   
The court observed that the authorities concerned did not appear to have addressed any issue sufficiently despite the Expert Committee having been appointed and given its recommendations.
“It would appear that High Level Expert Committee is required to monitor all steps relating to the restoration and preservation of Dal Lake,” the court said.  
Referring to the letter addressed by a Kashmir University law department student Syed Tahir Iqbal Jeelani in 2002 to then Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the bench said the letter highlighting the condition of Dal lake was treated as PIL and engaged the court for nearly 16 years. 
In the letter, Jeelani had highlighted the lack of attention being bestowed on the Dal Lake, drawing  the attention of the then chief justice to the constitutional provision and directive principles of State, pollution in addition to international instruments laying down the responsibility of the State. 
He had pointed out that environment pollution has resulted in public nuisance threatening the life of the inhabitants of the Dal lake area as well as the failure of the State to discharge their statutory duty and public obligations to protect and preserve the lake especially keeping in view the Environment Protection Act and Prevention and Control of Water Pollution Act. 
The court underscored that its order sheets stretch into 13 volumes. It said the orders by and large reveal the repeated agony expressed by the division benches with regard to failure and inability of the authorities to take effective steps for discharging their constitutional, statutory as well as public law responsibilities.   
The court said it has noted that the issues concerning the health of Dal lake are: Uncontrolled development of weeds in the lake suffocating the water body untreated sewage flowing into the lake from the surrounding areas, untreated sewage being release into the Dal Lake from the houseboats, lack of sufficient oxygen in the lake discouraging fish and other organisms to survive,  negative impact of dwellers on the lake which can be addressed only by their re-settlement and rehabilitation, complaints regarding propriety as well as adequacy of the measures by the State are to be found, catchment area of the lake getting show on account of inter alia. Besides the court said that growth of encroachments and unwarranted constructions, requirement of protection of streams which supply the waters of the Dal Lake, loss of depth of the Dal Lake and effective measures for its dredging, restoration of the depth and its maintenance, also concerns the water body.  
The court said as the amicus curie Z A Shah and other counsels were not present, it will consider the steps taken by the respondents on next date of hearing.

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