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Water resources are the govt property: J&K High Court 

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Dismisses petition of villagers of Qasba Yar against diversion of water channel to other villages  

Srinagar: Observing that the water resources are the property of the government and that no individual or group can claim any exclusive right on it, J&K High Court today dismissed a petition by residents of a Shopian village seeking restrain on diversion of a water canal to other villages.   

The residents of village Qasba Yar in Shopian had filed the petition seeking directions to the respondent authorities of the government to not change, divert or take any water from the canal — ‘Yari Kohl’ – passing through their village. 

They sought restraining the respondents from raising and completing the construction of a new canal or Kohl and prayed for its exclusive utilization for the purpose of irrigating the agricultural land of the villagers of Qasba Yar. 

They reasoned that the Yari Kohl is their only source of irrigation. The respondents, without any authority and justification, have started the construction of diversion of the canal through the Irrigation Division Shopian, they said. 

They argued that the Yari Kohl has limited quantity of water which is sufficient only for the residents of the village Qasba Yar only. 

The respondents argued that a new water channel, the ‘Dunaroo Canal’ was adopted by the department in the year 1989-90. It takes off from Bidnai Nallah at Shukroo, which is a perennial stream. 

The authorities said the new canal was taken up under a centrally funded scheme. It aimed to improve the irrigation facilities of Dunaroo, Naserpora, Check Keller, Mastpora, Check Vishroo, Muqian, Gulab Taing, Check Phalipora, and Moshwara villages. The scheme covered a cultivable area of 720 hectares.  

An amount of Rs 31.60 lakhs was spent on the canal by the end of 1996 when it was left midway due to lack of funds, said the respondents, adding the scheme was later revived in 2010. 

The estimated discharge requirements of Dunaroo canal and Qasba Yar Kohl are 26 and 15 cusecs, they said. There is sufficient water in the Nallah to cater to the needs of both the canals. The allegation of shortage of water is baseless, they informed the court. 

Justice Rajnesh Oswal while adjudicating the writ delivered his judgment on the basis of Section 3 of the Jammu and Kashmir Water Resources (Regulation and Management) Act, 2010. 

The Section says “every water source in the State is, and shall remain, the property of the government. Any proprietary ownership, or any riparian or usage right, on such water resources vested in any individual or group or body shall be deemed to have been terminated and vested with the government.”

The section further says “no person shall use any water from any source (surface or ground), or collect or extract any material from such water sources except in accordance with the provisions of the Act.”

The respondents have undertaken the exercise to ensure fair distribution of the natural resources and no individual or group of individuals can claim any right to exclusive use of natural resources, said the judge.


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