Rashid Paul

No more house boats on Dal waters: HC directs Tourism Deptt

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Srinagar July 19: With a view to restrict pollution and encroachments in Dal Lake the J&K High Court today directed the state Tourism Department not to permit any more house boats in the lake.

The court directed the government to give it the details of the registered and unregistered houseboats in the lake and “no further HB shall be permitted in the lake”.

A division bench hearing the matter directed for placing the name of owners along with the title of their house boats before the court on next date of hearing along with a site plan. The court directed the state Tourism Department to stop granting further permissions for operation of houseboats in the lake.

The court also sought a report in a mapping format with regard to relocation of houseboats. It further emphasized on beautification of pavements along the shores of the lake.

The government meanwhile informed the court that relocation of Dal dwellers is under active consideration and said that an appraisal report will be placed before the court on the next date of hearing.

The court in its previous hearing observed that the matters related to Dal Lake, the flagship of Kashmir’s Tourism, have reached such an impasse that unless they are addressed immediately, “the battle may well have been lost—even before we have begun to fight the rot”.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed in 2002, the court noted that crores of rupees have been pumped into efforts for saving and protecting the world famous water body but “none of the measures have shown any result at all.”

“This case is yet another reminder of the unassailable proposition that interests of the environment cannot be compromised, that they  must be placed well above individual interests and their impact is beyond any boundaries, that is to say universal in impact,” said a division bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal.

“From 2002 when the (PIL) was filed till 2018, a series of orders of the Court have also proved to be of no avail. These orders include the order dated 23rd March, 2009 declaring the Dal Lake custodia legis. Appointment of two Vigilance Commissioners who were required to visit the Dal Lake as far as possible on daily basis and submit weekly report, also did not stem the damage,” said the bench also comprising Justice Sanjeev Kumar.

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