Srinagar, Nov 5: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has banned constructions within 200 metres of the boundaries of the Wular Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes of Asia.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Sanjay Dhar also directed authorities to ensure that no garbage was “at all” dumped within the boundaries or within such distance of the Lake as is mandated by the law as well as the International and National Protocols for such area.
Rejecting the “excuse” by the government that garbage was dumped within the boundaries of the Wular Lake “for want of land for the dumping of the garbage.”
“We make it clear that this is no excuse at all for dumping the garbage within the identified boundaries of the Wular Lake. The respondents (authorities) are bound to and shall ensure that no garbage at all is dumped within the boundaries or within such distance of the Lake as is mandated by the law as well as the International and National Protocols of the area,” the court said , adding, “Every step in this regard shall be undertaken to ensure that there is no pollution of the Lake.”
Besides being amongst fresh water lakes, the water body’s associated wetlands support rich biodiversity and provides habitat to migratory birds within Central Asia flyover. It is also largest fisheries resource in Kashmir Valley, supporting livelihoods of large human population living along its fringes.
The court had made a visit to the area on 10 October this and had observed that garbage was previously being dumped within the boundaries of the Wular Lake.
“During our Court visit, attention was also drawn to encroachments which have come up within the boundaries and on the banks of the Wular Lake, in any case within 200 metres of the Wular Lake,” the division bench said, adding, “The respondents (authorities) shall immediately take necessary steps for removal of the encroachments within the boundary and vicinity of Wular Lake and in the no construction activity shall be permitted or come up within 200 metres of the boundaries of the Wular Lake.”
Meanwhile Faizan-ul-Haq Iqbal, Secretary District Legal Services Authority Baramulla informed that a Committee of the officials of the Revenue Department, Flood Control and Irrigation Department and the Forest Department have identified the land in Baramulla as well as Sopore for creation of a Solid Waste landfill.
“We direct that no obstruction shall be caused by any person to the setting up of this site. The Police Department shall ensure provision of adequate security to enable setting up of the garbage dumping sites,” the court said.
It also directed the authorities to undertake the awareness drive in the area to educate people in devising the generation of work, solid and liquid waste, as also preventing garbage dumping and littering of the area.
The court also directed Wular Lake authority to identify the issues, the steps underway as well as proposed and “discuss and seek guidance” of a Committee of Experts (CoE), constituted by the court for preservation and protection of the Dal Lake. (GNS)