Himachal Pradesh High Court on Monday issued notice to the Secretary (Forest), Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, Chief Conservator of Forest and District Forest Officer Bilaspur, Assistant Director Fisheries, Bilaspur, Project Director NHAI- PIU, Mandi and Gawar Kiratpur Nerchowk Highway Private Ltd., on illegal dumping of muck in the Govind Sagar Lake.
A Division Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice, Tarlok Singh Chauhan, and Justice Virender Singh, passed this order, in a Public Interest Litigation filed by Madan Lal, in a matter pertaining to illegal dumping of muck in the Govind Sagar Lake and its feeding Khuds or Nallahs.
The petitioner alleged that illegal muck dumping is being carried out in the Govind Sagar Lake while constructing four lane Kiratpur-Nerchowk National Highway.
He made various complaints to the authorities, however, they did not pay any heed to such complainants.
This Lake being an important fisheries reserve of the government of HP is home to about 51 species of fish such as Silver Carp, Singhara, Mahseer, and others who breed here.
The petitioner has submitted that a joint inspection committee consisting of eight (8) members, headed by SDM Bilaspur, was formed by Deputy Commissioner, Bilaspur.
In its report, the committee has pointed out that there are 10-12 khuds near Govind Sagar Lake.
The committee found that there is the illegal dumping of muck in these khuds and the muck reaches Govind Sagar Lake due to which huge loss is being caused to the Fisheries Department and fishermen.
The illegal dumping of muck in the reservoir has adversely affected the production of fish and resultantly the fishermen are not being able to earn their livelihood.
The petitioner has alleged that as per a study conducted by the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI), fish production has drastically reduced from 1492 metric tons in 2014 to 250 metric tons in 2022.
This drastic reduction in fish production has badly affected the livelihood of more than 3000 local families.
The petitioner has prayed that respondents be directed to remove illegal muck dumped in the Govind Sagar Lake and also from the khuds/nallahs from where the water flows into the Govind Sagar Lake.
He has further prayed to direct the respondents to initiate an inquiry against the officers/officials responsible for not being able to prevent the illegal muck dumping.
It has been also prayed to order an inquiry to look into the loss of livelihood caused to the poor fishermen.
In the meanwhile, the Court has directed the respondents to ensure that there is no illegal dumping of muck in the Govind Sagar Lake and its feeding Khuds/Nallahs.
The matter has been adjourned for 12 June, 2023.