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IIOJK court intervenes to preserve Kashmir’s 7 wetlands declared Ramsar sites

Srinagar: In what seen as an undisputed proof of the Modi-led Indian occupation regime’s lack of interest in preservation of the heritage of occupied Jammu and Kashmir, the High Court has given a final opportunity to the authorities to file a report indicating the status of seven wetlands recognised to be of international importance and declared Ramsar Sites in the territory.

A division bench of Chief Justice N Kotiswar Singh and Justice M A Chowdhary while hearing a suo moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) observing the failure of the authoriteis to file the status report as a “serious lapse” noted that despite the order passed by the court on September 9 last year, the report has not been yet filed.

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

While granting the final opportunity to the authorities in IIOJK to file the report without fail, the court said: “Failure to do so will result in appropriate penal action against those responsible.”

During the proceedings of the court, amicus curiae, Nadeem Qadri cited a report published on July 23 this year in Greater Kashmir titled ‘Anchar Lake in death throes’ and submitted that an immediate intervention from the court was required to protect the lake.

In its report, Greater Kashmir indicated that once known for crystal clear waters, Anchar Lake in Srinagar was on the verge of extinction as the lake had been a victim of decades of official apathy and greed of unscrupulous people.

In response to the submission by amicus curiae, the court asked him to submit relevant documentation and at the same time, it directed the authorities to indicate in its status report the current condition of the Anchar Lake.

Initially, four wetlands were recognised to be of international importance and were declared as Ramsar sites under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

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

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