Srinagar: Chief Justice, J&K High Court, Badar Durrez Ahmed on Thursday called upon the Judges to pass prompt orders in accordance with the law in the cases pertaining to encroachment of wetlands and river systems.
This was stated by the Chief Justice at the inauguration of one day sensitisation programme on “Forest and Wildlife Conservation”, including Laws dealing with Birds and Wetland Conservation organized at J&K State Judicial Academy at Moominabad here.
Judges of the High Court including Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, Justice M K Hanjura, Member, J&K State Judicial Academy, Director J&K State Judicial Academy Abdul Rashid Malik, Chief Judicial Magistrates and Munsiffs of Kashmir Province were present on the occasion.
The programme was also attended by the officers and officials of the Forest and Wildlife Departments; Dr Pankaj Chandan, Team Leader, Western Himalayas, WWF-India. Moulika Arabhi, Advisor, Centre for Environmental Law and other dignitaries.
“We are living in paradise and it is our duty to preserve this diversity not only in Kashmir but also in Jammu & Ladakh as well. Forests are very essential. The flood of 2014 is inter-connected to what is happening around us. Wetlands are also important,” Justice Ahmed said in his speech.
He said the Dal Lake is shrinking and the volume of its water has definitely reduced because of sewage and silt coming into the Lake. This has resulted in a complete change in biodiversity. Snow trout population has been reduced to 10-15% and overtaken by the Carp which was not native to Dal Lake but has been introduced and that changes the entire ecosystem of the Lake,” he said.
Stressing on preservation of the environment, Justice Ahmed said, “Whatever has been done has been done and whatever is left has to be preserved. As far as wetlands are concerned I find J&K is blessed with great diversity”. Wullar Lake has its own importance, “it is like International Airport of Migratory Birds. If the lakes disappear birds will not come, and we cannot live on this planet.”
The Chief Justice complimented the Judicial Academy for roping in WWF and organising the programme on the very critical subject of Wildlife and Forest Conservation with the special reference to Birds and Wetlands.
Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, in his address, said that changing pace of the environment is so fast that in order to keep the law on the same wave-length either laws have to be amended quite frequently to meet the new challenges it has to be given new direction by the judicial interpretation.
Highlighting the role of Judiciary in devising and monitoring the implementation of measures for pollution control, conservation of forests and wildlife protection, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said that many of these judicial interventions have been triggered by the persistent incoherence in policy-making as well as the lack of capacity-building amongst the executing agencies.
“Devices such as Public Interest Litigation (PIL) have been prominently relied upon to tackle environmental problems, and this approach has its supporters as well as critics,” he said.
Justice M K Hanjura, Member, J&K State Judicial Academy, in his address said that goal of wildlife conservation is to ensure that nature will be around for future generations to enjoy and also to recognize the importance of wildlife and wilderness for humans and other species alike.
“Wildlife conservation has become an increasingly important practice due to the negative effects of human activity on wildlife,” he said.
Director, J&K State Judicial Academy Abdul Rashid Malik, gave a resume about the Sensitisation Programme and emphasised that floods of 2014 have taught us many lessons and have no option but to preserve our forests, wildlife, birds and wetlands.
The inaugural session was followed by technical sessions in which the Resource Persons deliberated upon review of laws and policies applicable to Birds and Wetlands in the first technical session which was conducted by Ritwick Dutta, Environmental Lawyer & Founding Director, LIFE.
He also deliberated upon Current Status of Wetlands & Waterbirds in Kashmir. The second technical session was moderated by Dr Pankaj Chandan, Team Leader, Western Himalayas, and WWF – India. He elaborately discussed WWF India’s work on conservation of Birds and Wetlands. In the third and final session Merwyn Fernandes, Coordinator, Traffic India gave an overview of illegal Bird trade Scenarios in India: Concerns and solutions.
The Judicial Officers interacted with the Resource Persons on different aspects of Laws relating to Forest and Wildlife Conservation and also shared their rich experience during the deliberations.
The function concluded with the vote of thanks by Abdul Rashid Malik, Director, J&K State Judicial Academy. He appreciated WWF for their cooperation and collaboration with the State Judicial Academy. He also thanked all the Judicial Officers for their active participation in the programme.
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