Dal Lake to earn for its survival as LAWDA orders to levy charges from its users
Sagar for quick construction of culverts in Dal lakeMonday, 1 September 2014 0:11
The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) has made orders to levy “user charges” for upkeep of the Dal Lake, a flagship of Kashmir’s tourism.
As per the orders by LAWDA, every single adult—local, domestic or foreigner—visiting the Dal, known as Himalayan Urban Lake, will have to pay a nominal Rs 10 for a visit to the famed water body located in the heart of Srinagar.
Besides, every household connected with the sewerage treatment network in lake’s catchment area will have to pay Rs 100 a month.
This is apart from the direct beneficiaries of the lake including hotels, houseboats, guesthouses, and shikarawalas who will have to pay little more than a visitor or the household.
Depending upon the seasonability, the LAWDA has ordered to levy charge of Rs 1000 per month from deluxe and A-class houseboats during summer season and Rs 500 a month during off season (winter).
At the same time, B, C and D-class houseboats have been exempted from any such charge even as Rs 300 will be charged from each shikarawala during summer season only.
Similarly, hotels with more than 40 rooms will have to pay Rs 3000 per month for six summer months and Rs 1500 during winter.
Hotels with 20-30 rooms will be levied charge of Rs 2000 (summer season) and Rs 1000 during the six winter months while those having less than 20 room will have to Rs 1500 (per six month) and Rs 1000 (six months).
Every guesthouse will have to pay Rs 1000 per month for entire year, as per the orders already issued by LAWDA.
According to the LAWDA, the decision to levy the user charges has been taken to raise resources to fund the operation, maintenance cost of STPs, intermediate pumping stations, cleaning machines and general upkeep of the lake in future.
However, whether the decision is rule of thumb or based on rationality is a looming question. Also, there are questions about legality of the orders as to whether LAWDA has the jurisdiction and the powers to levy charges.
“LAWDA rightly justifies as far as sewerage treatment is concerned, but I do not know what is the approximate cost per year for maintenance of lake, whether it meets the requirement or not,” said senior advocate Z A Shah, who has been associated with a Public Interest Litigation to save the Dal for more 12-years.
“It should not be inadequate tomorrow as we know there is requirement of maintenance of STPs etc,” he said.
The order by LAWDA to levy the charge is an executive one, which Shah said, will surely be questioned as far legal basis are concerned.
“It must have some legal basis. LAWDA is a development authority. Tomorrow it will be challenged that charges are levied simply on the basis of an executive order. Under which Act they will charge it? There have to some proper legal basis for sustaining it,” Shah said.
As far as entry fee of Rs 10, he said, how will LAWDA ensure it? “Whether a person entering the lake twice has to pay a single time or twice? Few things need to be fine tuned,” he said.
Srinagar, Aug 29: Minister for Rural Development and Panchayats, and MLA Khanyar Ali Muhammad Sagar Monday directed the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to gear up work on construction of culverts in the dying Dal lake.
An official handout said: “The Minister directed the LAWDA for completing the culverts at Baghiroop Singh maintaining that these would go a long way in connecting the people living in these areas with the main land.”
The Minister was addressing officers during a review meeting convened to discuss the status of various developmental works undertaken in the Khanyar constituency. Secretary Housing and Urban Development, Satish Nehru, Managing Director, Ram Paul, Joint Commissioner Municipality, Bashir Ahmed Khan, Chief Engineer R&B, SK Razdan and senior officers of LAWDA, UEED, PHE were present in the meeting.
It is for the second time this year that the Minister has demanded construction of bridges and culverts in the dying waterbody.
Earlier this year on March 2, Sagar had directed LAWDA to speed up work on bridges in Dal lake. “At Miskeen Bagh, Lone Colony and Alamdar Colony, the Minister asked the LAWDA authorities to speed up pace of work on various bridges undertaken within estimated cost of Rs. 56.76 lacs, so that the people living in the areas and catchments get the necessary connections with the main land and other connecting areas,” the official handout for the day had said.
Meanwhile Sagar “directed the officers to speed up the pace of developmental works undertaken in different sectors like R&B, Housing, PDD, PHE, Tourism, etc for the development of the Khanyar constituency.”
The Minister also directed the officers to ensure cleanliness of the Baeb Daemb lagoon so that it is restored and the dredging is also done. He said that the Government has formulated a comprehensive plan for developing the area so that it comes up as a major tourist attraction in the City.
Sagar also sought early completion of the “City Gate” being constructed by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation. He said that its “construction should be done in accordance with the indigenous architectural patterns and in consonance with the heritage of the Valley.”
Sagar asked the officers to “speed up work on the Bohri Kadal, Kawadara, Malaratta, Roshan Ghar Mohalla Community halls so that the people living in these areas get the requisite infrastructural facilities for celebrating their social functions and doing other related things.” He said bottlenecks if any should be worked out and the work fast paced.
Sagar also directed the “UEED officers to augment the drainage system in the constituency and come up with a comprehensive plan so that people do not face any inconvenience.”