Apropos to the directions by the J&K High Court, Commissioner Vigilance Organisation has constituted a special team for conducting an enquiry into wealth amassed by Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) officers and officials “at the cost of the Dal Lake and its ecosystem”.
The court had ordered the probe after Vigilance Commissioners, in one of their reports, stated that funds allotted for preservation of the Dal Lake and its adjoining areas have not been used for the intended purpose and instead have found way their way into pockets of some officers/officials engaged in implementation of the projects. Some officers of LAWDA are said to have accumulated wealth at the cost of the Dal Lake and its ecosystem , the Commissioners — Mohammad Shafi Khan, who retired as principal sessions judge last year, and former SSP, Abdul Hamid Bhat, had said.
With the Court-appointed Commissioners having identified a number of illegal constructions in the last few weeks, the Court observed that this was indicative of the fact that LAWDA’s Enforcement Wing has been acting in collusion with lawbreakers and facilitating the illegal constructions. The Court had said that, ordinarily, the illegal buildings would not have escaped attention of the concerned authorities and could have been stopped well in time had the officers discharged their duty.
“They, by their omissions and commissions, have conferred undue benefits on lawbreakers and their conduct, prima facie, amounts to ‘misconduct’ as defined under Section 5 of the J&K Prevention of Corruption Act,” the bench observed and directed the Commissioner Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, and Vice-Chairman LAWDA to immediately attach officers or officials of the Enforcement Wing — tasked with checking encroachments in the Dal and Nigeen Lake — under whose territorial jurisdiction the illegal buildings came up.
The court also directed the authorities to replace the staff by a team of ‘honest and dedicated officers or officials’ from LAWDA itself or even those on deputation from other wings of the Housing and Urban Development Department.
While the vigilance organization has filed the case and started investigation, it is expected to bring those who conspired against Dal Lake, the flagship of tourism, to book. It is beyond doubt that lot of money has been released by government for protection and conservation of the lake, there are no results. The water body continues to deteriorate and the vigilance must ensure that the endeavour of the hon’ble high court is accomplished.