Rashid Paul

HC issues notice to GoI, local authorities on dumping of solid municipal waste in Wular lake

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Photo-Bilal Dar/Kashmir Images

Srinagar: J&K High Court on Friday issued a notice to government of India and some local authorities on dumping of 66.59 metric tons of solid and biomedical waste in to Wular lake Kashmir.

A division bench issued a notice on the matter and sought status report from Union of India through Secretary Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change besides an array of J&K government authorities including Commissioner Secretary Urban Local Bodies Department.

The development came in a public interest petition by Central Auqaf Committee, Tarzoo-Dharnambal, North Kashmir through advocate Shafqat Nazir.

The petitioners said “within the limits of Municipal Council Sopore about 66.59 Metric Tons of solid waste/garbage is produced every day which is directly dumped by Municipal Council Sopore into the Wular Lake”.

They sought that respondents be commanded to immediately stop dumping of municipal solid waste and biomedical waste in to the  Ramsar Wetland near Dharnambal, Ningli Sopore.

The area falls within the delineated periphery pillars of Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) and Hygam-Ningli-Tarzoo Tourism Development Authority, they said.

Their petition said that India being a contracting party to Ramsar Convention is bound to conserve and preserve the Ramsar wetlands from any type of environmental degradation.

Wular had been notified as a Ramsar Wetland in 1990.

“Unmindful of the treaty obligations, Water Conservation and Management Rules, Solid Waste Management Rules and Environment (Protection) Act, the respondent Municipal Council with the encouragement of district administration is continuously dumping solid waste into the wetland despite protests and repeated representations by residents of the area”, read the petition.

It informed that the limits of Municipal Council Sopore generate about 66.59 Metric Tons of solid waste/garbage every day which they directly dump in the lake.

“There is no environmental impact assessment conducted by the respondents before converting the place into a garbage dumping site”, it said.

Wular is the largest fresh water lake in India and second of its kind in Asia. Its size varies seasonally from 30-260 sq.kms. it is the defined ecosystem of numerous species of flora and fauna including carp fish, water chestnuts and nadru.

The government had for the promotion of tourism related activities in the area raised many tourist huts and on the bank of the lake near Wular barrage/navigation project a public park was also to be raised.

The Municipal Council Sopore, according to the petitioners, has illegally converted the land falling within the limits of WUCMA and HNTDA into a garbage dumping site.

The proposed public park which is in the immediate vicinity of tourist huts and almost 100 meters from the Wular waters has been overnight ruined and converted into an open garbage dumping site, they added.

The area is environmentally sensitive, and in terms of Wetland Conservation and Management Rules, 2017, no such activity can be undertaken by the respondents in the area under any circumstances and for any reason whatsoever, they said further.

“The respondents have resorted to hooliganism on the spot and every rule and regulation has been thrown to winds and the petitioners are being intimidated through the police agency to remain silent on the issue”, said the petition.

The action of the respondents is also in clear violation of Sopore Master Plan-2032 drafted by the Town Planning Organization, Government of J&K, it said.

The petitioners sought a direction from the court to immediately stop the authorities from dumping the municipal solid waste/ biomedical waste on the Ramsar Wetland and ask them to instantly remove the garbage dumped on the spot.

The respondents may further be directed to develop the area in a planned manner given its huge tourism potential while taking care of the environmental sensitivities, it prayed.

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