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What steps have been taken to avoid situations like 2014 flood: HC to Govt

‘Furnish utilisation certificates of over Rs 413 crore released by Centre’
01:40 AM Jun 11, 2024 IST | D A RASHID
what steps have been taken to avoid situations like 2014 flood  hc to govt

Srinagar, June 10:  The High Court of J&K and Ladakh Monday sought the government’s affidavit indicating the steps it had taken in keeping with court orders to prevent the situation like that of the devastating floods in 2014.


Hearing a batch of three Public Interest Litigations (PILs), a division bench of Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Wasim Sadiq Nargal also directed the government to furnish utilisation certificates of Rs 413.23 crore released by the Centre for various flood-related projects undertaken by Jammu and Kashmir.


In response to these PILs filed in 2014, 2017, and 2018, the court has passed several orders carrying directions to the government to take measures to avoid the recurrence of floods like 2014 and the massive damage it caused.


In its order dated May 29., 2024, that was uploaded on its website on Monday, the court said that keeping in mind the impending monsoon season and the likelihood of floods, the authorities are directed to file a detailed affidavit detailing the steps they had taken in terms of the orders passed by the court from time to time.


The court sought the latest compliance report to be filed by the authorities in terms of an order dated June 10, 2016, wherein among others, it had directed all the concerned Deputy Commissioners (DCs) to ensure that no construction of any kind is raised near the water bodies within their territorial jurisdiction, which should also include details in tabulated form regarding the encroachments removed on the River Jhelum.


The court also directed the government to file an Action Taken Report detailing therein what preventive measures have been taken and are being envisaged to deal with the precarious issue of floods in Kashmir, given the impending monsoon season.


The court issued these directions after observing that the orders passed by it from time to time would reveal that the respondents (authorities) have not truly appreciated the seriousness of the issues involved in these PILs as, it said, was apparent from the perusal of various compliance reports.


As the matter came up for hearing, amicus curiae Nadeem Qadri drew the attention of the court to the order passed by it on August 18, 2017.

“What is of prime importance for this court is to prevent the possibility of recurrence of such a devastating flood, which had occurred in September 2014 for which several directions have been issued by this court, including directions issued on August 18, 2017, and September 11, 2017,” the court observed and sought a fresh affidavit from the government.

In its order dated August 18, 2017, the court had directed the concerned authorities to immediately carry out demarcation of the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves, and the wetland reserves, which had found a mention in the status report dated August 17, 2017, filed by the J&K’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.

The amicus curiae submitted that ‘Kazinag National Park’ located in north Kashmir, Uri, Baramulla along with two wildlife sanctuaries, Limber Wildlife Sanctuary and Lachipora Wildlife Sanctuary as well as Naganari Conservation Reserve seem to have been, inadvertently, left out in the status report, which would also require proper demarcation.

He submitted that despite the order passed by this court on August 18, 2017, nothing apparent had been done for the demarcation of the locations mentioned in the order.

In response to the submission, the court directed the government to file an affidavit by or before the next date of hearing regarding the steps taken for demarcation, as directed by it on August 18, 2017.

In its August 18, 2017, order, the court had directed: “The demarcation should be carried out using the latest GIS technology so that it was clear as to what was supposed to be the area covered by each of the national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, conservation reserves, and wetland reserves and what exists in reality.”

Posting the matter for August 20, it said: “Keeping in view the sensitivity attached to these issues, it is made clear that if the needful is not done within the stipulated period of three weeks, this court, in that eventuality, will be constrained to take coercive steps against the respondents.”