Rashid Paul

Dismantle toilets in close proximity to aquatic ecosystems: HC to Govt

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Asks ACB to expedite probe in Handwara PHE scam

Srinagar, Nov 29: After being informed about the disastrous state of affairs of the water-bodies of Kashmir, the High Court today directed the authorities to dismantle all the toilets that are in close proximity to aquatic ecosystems in the Valley.

As the report by Regional Director, Pollution Control Board (PCB), apprised the court about the condition of the water-bodies the judges observed that “these aquatic systems are in a disastrous state of affairs”.

“In view of the report submitted by PCB, it is directed that the concerned state authorities shall ensure that the toilets which are in close proximity to water-bodies be dismantled forthwith,” directed the court.

The PCB report said “the human excreta flowing into the water-body causes multidimensional problems. Fecal matter contains various types of pathogens which makes the water-body unfit even for bathing. Various types of diseases like jaundice, gastroenteritis, dysentery, etc. can be caused if such water is consumed or comes in contact while swimming.”

The report further said “addition of human excreta into the water-body deteriorates its quality and causes augmentation of demand parameters, hereby reducing the level of dissolved oxygen which is essential for aquatic life. Further, the water-body loses its aesthetic look besides enhancing organic load and nutrient concentration.”

This position cannot be permitted to continue under any circumstances at all, observed the court.

It directed that state authorities shall also ensure that the structures thereof are not permitted to be used in any manner for urination or defecation.

It also directed the concerned officials to frame an action plan as well as time-line for construction of fresh public toilets at places which are not proximate to the water-bodies and are permitted by experts to be located.

It asked the Regional Director, PCB to cause an inspection to be undertaken within four weeks of the lavatories and toilets which are the subject matter of his report to the court.

The PCB report revealed that public sewage, bathroom waste, waste water from toilets and lavatories in public places and houses amongst others is being permitted to run directly into the river.

The court was also informed that the Crime Branch of J&K Police has seized records of three years relating to the Public Health Engineering (PHE) scam at Handwara.

It has undertaken an investigation into the posting details of officers/officials of the PHE Division, Handwara, between April 2014 to March 2016, a report by the investigating agency said.

It stated that the investigation is at the initial stage and threadbare perusal of the records, spot inspection of the works and expert opinions will be obtained and identification of accused persons conducted after ascertaining their involvement and roles.

The bench directed the Anti-Corruption Bureau to ensure that every care is exercised and the investigation is concluded at the earliest into the matter.

A report in this regard shall be placed before the court within eight weeks, it asked the officials.

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