The Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court has asked the state Cabinet to approve the project of relocating houseboats to the interior of Dal Lake without any further delay.
The J&K HC had earlier directed the state government to take a string of measures to bring down the pollution levels in this lake and ensure its preservation. The government, on its part, has already shifted a few hundred families from areas adjoining the lake to the proposed satellite township of Rakh-i-Arth in the central district of Budgam. The court has also directed the government to relocate the houseboats into the interiors of the lake known as the Dole Demb. On the instructions of the court the administrative department has submitted a detailed project report to the government, which the state Cabinet needs to approve. The Centre has already financed Dal Conservation Project including the shifting of habitations from the lake to make its waters clean. Dal Lake is a major tourist attraction in Srinagar.
J&K High Court has been monitoring the functioning of Lakes and Water Ways Development Authority (LAWDA) which is responsible for the lake’s conservation. A Public Interest Litigation was filed a few years ago, requesting the conservation of the Dal Lake. Sources in the state government told this newspaper that the matter of shifting the houseboats is most likely to be taken up in the next Cabinet meeting.
LAWDA had submitted a report to the government on this matter, listing the financial implications of shifting the houseboats.
The HC in its latest hearing has said it expects the government to announce the tentative schedule of the shifting of the boats in a phased manner, so that the owners have the information beforehand.