HC seeks status report on conservation of wetlands ‘without fail’

Seeks report on current condition of dying Anchar Lake

SRINAGAR, NOV 20: Observing that the failure on part of the Jammu and Kashmir government was a “serious lapse”, the High Court of J&K and Ladakh on Monday granted UT administration “final opportunity” to file a status report regarding wetlands of international importance in Union territory. The court also sought status about the current condition of Anchar Lake, located near Soura area and connected with the famous Dal Lake via a channel “Amir Khan Nallah” which passes through Gilsar and Khushal Sar.

“In spite of the order passed by this Court on 09.09.2022, the Union Territory of J&K has not yet filed a status report, while the Union Territory of Ladakh has filed the same,” a bench of Chief Justice N. Kotiswar Singh and Justice M.A. Chowdhary said while hearing a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on the directions by the Supreme Court.

”Considering the importance attached to the issue and the desire of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to have the matter monitored by this Court, we are of the view that failure to file a status report by the Union Territory of J&K is a serious lapse,” the court said.

However, the court granted a “final opportunity to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir to file the status report without fail.”

“Failure to do so will result in appropriate penal action against those responsible for not filing the status report,” the court said.

It also directed the government to indicate status regarding the current condition of Anchar Lake.

The directions followed submissions by Amicus Curiae that the Anchar Lake is in dire situation and needs immediate intervention from the Court for its protection.

There are seven wetlands covered under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands and include Hokersar, Wular Lake, Shalbugh and Haigam in Kashmir Valley; Tso Moriri and Tso Kar in Ladakh and Surinsar-Mansar Lakes Jammu.

The High Court, following the directions by the Supreme Court on 3 April 2017, had treated an affidavit filed by the petitioner M K Balakrishnan before the apex court regarding certain wetlands which were covered under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands as PIL.

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