Jammu and Kashmir high court (HC) order asking around 800 houseboats to retreat from the shores of Dal lake seems to have created a deadlock as government and boat owners are passing the buck.
To prevent pollution of the lake, a division bench of HC, on Monday, ordered a 300-meter retreat of houseboats from the picturesque Boulevard road in Srinagar.
The bench has given a deadline of November 9, directing houseboat owners to finish the process of shifting of the houseboats 300 feet away from parapet wall of the road to allow routine observation of conservation efforts by government and environmentalists.
Chief justice MM Kumar and Justice Hasnain Massodi maintained that the process of shifting should be carried out under the supervision of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) within the stipulated time.
Ready for the realignment, houseboat owners wanted the government to finish the process.
"We have no problem in going back 300 meters but there are land masses and structures constructed inside the lake. How can we trespass somebody's land or dwelling," said president House Boat Owners Association, Azim Tuman.
The HC has been monitoring the conservation efforts of the lake for the past four years after ministry of environment and forests started 'Dal lake cleaning project' in 2005 assigning it to LAWDA.
"It is not our proposal. The idea of retreat was mooted by the houseboat owners themselves before the court. Now they have to implement it themselves," said vice-chairman LAWDA, Irfan Ahmad.
When asked about the roadblocks for the boat owners, he was evasive: "These issues are to be dealt later. First they should realign their boats," the VC said.
The lake, which some two decades ago used to glitter with sparkling waters, has been turning grubby as sewage of thousands of houses, houseboats, hotels and shops inside and on its peripheries pours into the lake daily.
The government has been pleading for a check on the number of houseboats "for their role in polluting the water bodies" prompting a ban on new construction of boats by the court.
Tuman said that they were being targeted unnecessarily. "Ninety-seven percent of the city's sewage is being pumped into the lakes while our share is only 3%. They want to finish this heritage forever," he said.