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J&K govt forms expert committee to determine buffers around Dal lake, other water bodies in Srinagar

Ziraat Times Exclusive

Srinagar, Dec 10: Jammu & Kashmir government has constituted a ‘Technical Committee of Experts’ to determine the buffers around Dal lake and allied water bodies falling in Srinagar Metropolitan Region.

The decision comes in the backdrop of J&K High Court order dated 8 September, 2022 passed by the Hon’ble High Court in PIL No. 159/2002, titled Syed Iqbal Tahir Geelani V/S State of J&K and Others.

The committee has been constituted by the Housing and the Urban Development Department through an order dated 9 December 2022 a copy of which has been obtained by Ziraat Times.

The committee, which comprises members from J&K government and expert members outside of the government, has been assigned the terms of reference –

1) To comprehensively examine, after due consultations with the stakeholders, the question of buffers of the Dal and allied water bodies covered by the Srinagar Master Plan 2035, from an environmental/lake ecosystem and urban planning/design point of view for the sustainability and conservation of these water bodies also ensuring that the gains from the efforts over the last two decades are taken to their logical conclusion; and,

2. Based on the above, to submit a comprehensive report with clear and unambiguous recommendations on the extant of the buffers around these water bodies and the permissible activities that could be allowed in the buffer zones or in such areas beyond the buffers as would be necessary in the interest of the conservation of these water bodies.

The Committee shall be serviced by the J&K Lake Conservation and Management Authority and shall complete its task within two (02) months from the date of issuance of this order.

An environmental expert speaking to Ziraat Times said that while the order is welcome if it is intended to safeguard the buffer areas from construction and other development, as of now it is unclear whether the purpose of the committee is to reserve and safeguard buffer zones of Dal Lake and other water bodies or the idea is to exclude certain areas so as to expand the construction belt around the water bodies.

J&K Government Members of the committee are –

1. Vice Chairman, Lake Conservation & Management Authority (Member-Convener)

2. Vice Chairman, Srinagar Development Authority

3. Representative of Department of Forest, Ecology & Environment, not below the rank of Conservator of Forests

4. Chief Town Planner, Town Planning Organization, Kashmir 5. Chief Engineer, Irrigation & Flood Control, Kashmir or his representative having sound knowledge and understanding of lakes and wetlands

Expert Members include –

1. Dr. A. B. Akolkar, Former Member Secretary, Central Pollution Control Board, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Government of India.

2. Prof. A. A Qazmi, IIT Roorkee

3. Prof. Meenakhshi Dhote, Environment Planning Department, SPA, New Delhi.

4. Prof. Ariti Grover, Landscape Architecture Department, SPA, New Delhi

5. Prof. K. K. Pandey, Prof. of Urban Management, Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi. Indian

6. Prof. Zahoor Ahmad Rather, SKUAST, Kashmir (Floriculture & Landscape Department)

7. Dr. Pratab Singh, Expert in Hydrology, RMSI

8. Dr. Himayun Rahid, Scientist, Department of Environment and Remote Sensing, J&K.

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