J&K HC appoints two commissioners to check construction around Dal Lake

Irked over the failure of lake authority - LADWA - to halt encroachments in Dal Lake, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has appointed two Vigilance Commissioners for reporting any violation of the ban imposed on construction activities around the famous water body.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 05, 2015, 16:04 PM IST

Srinagar: Irked over the failure of lake authority - LADWA - to halt encroachments in Dal Lake, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has appointed two Vigilance Commissioners for reporting any violation of the ban imposed on construction activities around the famous water body.

"We are of the view that two independent and impartial court Vigilance Commissioners preferably with administration of justice and law enforcement background need to be appointed to keep vigil and regularly report to the Court the construction activity, if any, undertaken in the Lake and its adjoining areas so that action warranted is taken without any delay," a division bench of the High Court said in an order yesterday.

The bench, comprising Chief Justice N Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice Hasnain Masoodi, expressed disappointment over the failure of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to halt encroachments in Dal Lake here.

The court appointed Muhammad Shafi Khan, former Principal District and Sessions Judge, Srinagar and Abdul Hamid Bhat, former Senior Superintendent of Police as the Vigilance Commissioners.

The court directed the Commissioners to inspect the Dal Lake area possibly on a daily basis and submit weekly report to Registrar Judicial, indicating construction activity undertaken within Dal Lake and its prohibited area with necessary details like identity of the violators, nature of the construction and its dimensions.

The court also directed the Commissioners to report violation of any of the directions passed by the court since July 19, 2002 regarding transportation of building material, earth filling, and release of untreated effluents by any commercial establishment into the Dal Lake. The court directed the Vice-Chairman LAWDA to provide the Commissioners reasonable office space within LAWDA Complex and services of at least one steno typist and orderly and also provide transport facilities like Motor Boat so that they are in a position to discharge their duties without any difficulty or impediment.

Each Commissioner, the court said, shall be paid Rs 30,000 per month as honorarium, by Vice Chairman LAWDA.

"They shall in the first instance inspect alleged violation identified in the applications in hand and submit their report," the court added.

Pointing out that the Dal Lake, spread over 50 Square Kilometers half a century back has shrunk to 13.5 Square Kilometers, the court said: "We have thus lost a little less than 3/4th of Dal Lake during last few decades. Significant decrease in area of Dal Lake is mainly attributable to illegal constructions and encroachments because of such constructions."

"We are of the view that prevention of construction activity in Dal Lake and within 200 meters from the edge of Foreshore Road and other adjoining prohibited areas cannot be left exclusively to officers and the officials of LAWDA," the bench added.