HC Gives Green Signal For Extension Of Shere-e-Kashmir Bridge In Poonch
30 May 2015
: Jammu and Kashmir High Court today gave green signal for the extension of Sher-e-Kashmir Bridge in Poonch, terming it important for the discharge of huge amount of water in the river. Justice Janak Raj Kotwal observed that the petitioners, however, have produced documents along with the petition in support of their ownership-possession of or interest in the properties in question. Record produced by the petitioners notwithstanding, physical position existing on spot is vividly clear from the revenue map 'aks titima shajra' produced by the respondents along with their reply to the petition. In this map, besides indicating the existing bridge in red, proposed extension is shown in blue. Lands comprised in various Khasra numbers including khasra Nos. 146-1, 162 and 159 have been shown located downstream the proposed extension towards the west. High Court further observed that apprehension of the petitioners that their lands-properties would be adversely affected prima facie is inherent and inseparable from the very purpose of extending the span of the bridge. It is the respondents' case that the river basin under the existing span of the bridge was designed in a way to allow discharge of 6000 cusecs of water whereas the hydraulic data maintained during recent floods shows increase in flood discharge upto 7450 cusecs. This means purpose behind extending the span of the bridge is to make space for expected high discharge of flood water in future at its peak. This in turn means that huge volume of flood water will be flowing under the extended span of the bridge and likelihood of water entering the lands-properties located downstream cannot be denied. With these observations Justice Janak Raj Kotwal admitted the petition. However, having regard to the public interest and urgency involved in the matter, interim direction issued by this Court on 21.10.2014 was modified by providing that respondents may go ahead with the extension of the bridge, subject, however, to the conditions that the State Government shall, before taking up the physical work on extension of the bridge, constitute a committee comprising of the Deputy Commissioner, Poonch, Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control, Jammu and such other members as the Government may deem proper. This committee shall identify the lands-properties of the petitioners likely to be affected by the flood water passing under the extended span of the bridge at its peak discharge and submit report to this Court within eight weeks and the State Government, through the Chief Secretary of the State, shall on receipt of the committee's report come forward with suggestions as to what may be done to address the grievance of the petitioners, if it is found that affected area would include their lands-houses also.