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HC closes PIL on removal of encroachments from Doodh Ganga

Post by Syed Rukaya on Thursday, December 29, 2022

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Srinagar, Dec 28: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh closed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking removal of encroachments and prevention of water pollution from Doodh Ganga Stream and Filtration Plant while observing that the issue is pending consideration of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), Delhi and a very effective directions have been passed to tackle the issue of pollution of the Stream and Filtration Plant.
"We are satisfied that with the intervention of NGT, Delhi, the needful shall be done by the Union Territory of J&K to prevent the pollution and environmental degradation of Doodh Ganga Stream and Doodh Ganga Filtration Plant," a division bench comprising Justices Sanjeev Kumar and M.A Chowdhary said while disposing of the PIL.
The bench said that the NGT is still seized of the matter and is monitoring the implementation of the directions issued from time to time.
The court passed the observations after amicus curiae, Shaqir Haqani, submitted a response to the compliance report filed by the Pollution Control Board (PCB) stating that a similar application raising the issue which has been raised in this appeal was filed before the NGT.
It revealed that NGT has taken cognizance of the matter and issued several directions from time to time.
It stated that on March 08, 2022, the NGT had imposed a penalty of Rs three crore on J&K government for its “acknowledged failure” in preventing pollution in Doodh Ganga river.
“The state is accordingly held liable to pay interim compensation of Rs. One crore each under all the three heads which may be deposited in a separate account to be utilized for restoration of the environment. The amount may be deposited with the District Magistrate, Budgam and spent as per plan approved by the Chief Secretary,” reads the order issued by the Principal bench of NGT.
From perusal of order dated March 08, 2022 passed by NGT, Delhi, the court said, it is abundantly clear that the issue is pending consideration of the NGT Delhi and a very effective directions have been passed to tackle the issue of pollution of Doodh Ganga Stream and Doodh Ganga Filtration Plant.
"In view of the aforesaid, we see no reason to keep this PIL pending in this Court, the proceedings in this Public Interest Litigation are thus closed," the bench said with a direction to the Deputy Commissioner, Budgam to pay a sum of Rs.25,000 to amicus curiae Shaqir Haqani for assisting the court in the matter.
Earlier, the court took suo-moto cognizance of the news report published in Greater Kashmir newspaper on August, 01, 2019 with a headline “Doodhganga no more "milky‟ courtesy official apathy” and initiated a Public Interest Litigation.
The news item alleged the apathy on part of the government officials in maintaining the safety and purity of drinking water source of the stream while specifying the various factors contributing to such pollution of the water above Kralapora, Budgam upstream upto the river source.
It also disclosed that heaps of garbage was lying around Doodh Ganga Filtration Plant built in the year 1972 situated at Kralapora, district Budgam which supplied potable water to more than two lac consumers in the districts of Budgam and Srinagar.
It was also reported that the concerned authorities were simply shifting their responsibilities.
The court after taking note of the news report had observed that the content of the news report depicts prevalence of a grave situation all over the course of the Nalla, from its source to the Walter Filtration Plant, in the shape of health hazardous materials of sorts and pollutants being lead into, thrown and dumped in the water course or its Banks, risking not only the public hygiene, environment and ecology of the Nalla, but also the usefulness of the installation in question.
"The alarming situation cannot be described and brought home to the concerned, but by the content of the news report itself," the bench had said.

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