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File response to govt’s report on Jhelum flood control scheme: HC to NGO

Post by Syed Rukaya on Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Srinagar, Nov 28: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh Monday granted 18 days to Environmental Policy Group (NGO) to file response to a status report of J&K government regarding framing of scheme for flood control, improvement of embankment of river Jhelum and utilisation of funds on the project.
A division bench of Chief Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Sanjay Dhar directed the counsel, Shafkat Nazir representing the NGO to file his response to the status report filed by J&K government by or before December 16, this year.
"He may do so by the next date of hearing, with a copy in advance to the other side," the court said.
The bench passed the direction after the petitioner counsel sought more time to submit the response to the status report filed by the Principal Secretary, Irrigation & Flood Control (I&FC) Department.
Previously, the court had asked amicus curiae, Nadeem Qadri to go through the said report and make suggestions.
Earlier, the court was informed by the Assistant Solicitor General of India, T. M. Shamsi that the central government has provided sufficient funds for the restoration and preservation of the river Jhelum and for control of the floods.
The court was hearing a PIL by EPG, an Enviro-Social think tank, through its Convenor, Faiz Ahmad Bakshi, highlighting the acts of omission and commission by the Central & J&K government committed before, during and after the devastating floods of 2014 in Kashmir.
Referring to an RTI report, the petition alleges that the Irrigation & Flood Control & the Central Water Resource Ministry knew in 2009 that a major flood would occur between 2010 & 2015 but did little to take measures to avert it.
"Its action remained confined to making plans and projects without taking practical steps to implement them on ground. Instead the dredging of river Jhelum that had been started in early sixties was abandoned in 2012," it alleges.
Moreover, the plea alleges, the I&FC Department not only miserably failed in increasing the carrying capacity of river Jhelum, Wular and other water bodies through desiltation "but instead their carrying capacity drastically got reduced thereby exposing the valley to more 2014-flood like situations thereby agonising the people every time it rains for two-three days."
The PIL also includes various government, non-government and expert reports which reveal that the 2014-floods were more man-made than a natural disaster that could have been averted if timely measures were taken.

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