HC Dissatisfied With Govt Report On Encroachments Near Jhelum

22 December 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Ishfaq Tantry

Srinagar: To free the Jhelum banks from illegal encroachments, the authorities concerned have so far felled 1.86 lakh trees and removed over 600 structures from south Kashmir up to the Line of Control in Uri, where the river leaves the Valley. This was revealed today by the Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control, in his compliance report to the High Court, which is hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking removal of encroachments around water bodies of Kashmir. However, after the perusal of the compliance report, a division bench of the court said that it was not satisfied with the report. 'The Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir and Chief Engineer (I&FC) appear to have made a very casual exercise of submitting compliance that is based on a report submitted by the Executive Engineers. There is nothing on record to suggest that these authorities have actually made any effort towards implementation of the court directions,' a division bench of the High Court observed in its orders today while asking these authorities to 'come up with a requisite compliance report by or before the next date and in default of doing so, shall remain in present'. The court also directed all deputy commissioners to provide information with regard to the original width of the Jhelum and number of encroachments by the next date or be present in the court in case of default. In its earlier direction on November 26, the court had asked all 'deputy commissioners and the Chief Engineer (Irrigation and Flood Control) to file the latest status report about the removal of encroachments from the banks of the Jhelum. The court in its previous directions had sought details of the original width of the Jhelum through its entire course in Kashmir from the deputy commissioners, which so far have not been furnished. 'The answering department (I&FC) has prior to the passing of order dated 26-11-2015 removed 14,0942 tress along with 301 different types of structures from and around the banks of the Jhelum,' Chief Engineer Javed Jaffer told the court in his fresh compliance report. 'Continuing with the implementation of the court directions, the respondent department, post filing of the previous compliance report, has removed 697 encroachments in the shape of boundary walls, kutcha structures and pucca structures and 1,86,543 trees from and around the banks of the Jhelum,' Jaffer informed the court. The Chief Engineer also told the court that soon after the November 26 court orders, all the Executive Engineers concerned were directed to accelerate the process of demolition of encroachments from and around the Jhelum banks. Besides, during a meeting on December 12, 2015, the Executive Engineers were also directed to get the demarcation process of the Jhelum completed through the revenue authorities within their respective territorial jurisdiction.