High Court issues notice over Illegal muck dumping in HPs Gobind Sagar lake
Shimla, May 22
The High Court of Himachal Pradesh has taken cognizance of the issue of illegal dumping of muck in Gobind Sagar Lake and its feeding Khuds/Nallahs. In response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Madan Lal, a Division Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice, Tarlok Singh Chauhan and Justice Virender Singh, have issued notice to several government officials and entities responsible for overseeing the construction of the Kiratpur-Nerchowk National highway.
The petitioner alleges that the ongoing construction work on the four-lane highway has led to the unlawful disposal of muck into Govind Sagar Lake. Despite multiple representations and complaints made by the petitioner, authorities have reportedly neglected to address the issue. Gobind Sagar Lake, located in Bilaspur and Una districts, is a significant water fowl refuge and fisheries reserve of the Government of Himachal Pradesh, housing around 51 species of fish.
An inspection committee, headed by the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Bilaspur and comprising eight members, conducted a joint survey. The committee’s report identified 10-12 khuds (streams) near Gobind Sagar Lake where illegal muck dumping was observed. The muck from these khuds eventually finds its way into the lake, causing significant damage to the Fisheries Department and adversely affecting the livelihoods of local fishermen.
According to the petitioner, a study conducted by the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute revealed a drastic decline in fish production from 1492 metric tons in 2014 to 250 metric tons in 2022, severely impacting over 3000 local families.
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In response to the PIL, the High Court has instructed the concerned respondents, including the Secretary (Forest), Principal Chief Conservator of Forest to the Government of Himachal Pradesh, Chief Conservator of Forest, District Forest Officer of Bilaspur, Assistant Director of Fisheries in Bilaspur, Project Director of the National Highways Authority of India – Project Implementation Unit in Mandi, and Gawar Kiratpur Nerchowk Highway Pvt. Ltd., to take immediate action against the illegal muck dumping.
The petitioner has also prayed the court to direct an inquiry to identify the responsible officials and initiate appropriate disciplinary measures. Additionally, an investigation also be conducted into the adverse impact on the livelihoods of fishermen.
The High Court has ordered the respondents to ensure that no further illegal dumping of muck takes place in Gobind Sagar Lake and its feeding khuds/nallahs. The next hearing in this matter has been scheduled for June 12, 2023.