Dal Dwellers Face Eviction, Lose Livelihood in Name of Lake Conservation

Reported by

Rabiya Bashir

Legal Data by

Edited by

Updated by

Published on

May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

Updated on

May 20, 2020

Location of Conflict

Srinagar

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Urban Development (Other than Smart Cities)

Dal Lake conservation project

(

)

People Affected by Conflict

10944

Households Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

75

ha

Starting Year

2011

State

Jammu and Kashmir

Sector

Infrastructure

Dal Lake is home to and the main source of livelihood for a population of more than 50,000, a majority of them belonging to the Hanji community. The Hanji community earns their livelihood from the lake by engaging in various activities, such as fishing, growing vegetables like nadru (lotus stem) and haak (green leafy vegetable), ferrying tourists in shikaras and collecting water lilies for cows, although some of them also practise farming. The Dal dwellers,** who have been living on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar for generations, have been forcefully evicted by the state in the name of conservation of the lake. The 'relocation' is scheduled to be completed by 2025. The eviction drive, which began in 2011, is seen as a move to implement the 'Save Dal Project' which was introduced in 1997. According to the state's Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), the project comprises two components: conservation and rehabilitation. While fruitful conservation efforts are yet to be seen, the state is facing backlash for its rehabilitation effort.  In 2007, the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority announced a plan to prepare housing plots for Dal dwellers at the Rakhe Arth wetland colony in Bemina, on the outskirts of Srinagar. As part of the conservation of the lake, more than 2,000 families have been forcefully evicted from 75 hectares of land so far, as told to LCW by a junior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. In the process, their movable assets, including livestock and agricultural produce and equipment, have also been displaced. The relocation and rehabilitation project began in 2010 with the aim to move 9,461 families from Dal Lake to RakheArth. However, the land on which the colony is built is a wetland and not suitable for rehabilitation. Many of the houses that the government constructed for rehabilitation **have developed cracks or have skidded off, risking the lives of families residing there. The roads have potholes and the colony is also lacking in adequate educational and primary healthcare facilities. They are distressed as their livelihood is totally dependent on the lake and has been severely disrupted due to the relocation, with many struggling to subsist themselves. Although the affected people accepted the compensation package of INR 10 lakh per family offered by the government, they have realized it is not enough to cover their losses and have demanded that the government relocate them back to the lake. A group of people organized themselves in February 2020, at Nehru Park, urging the government to not proceed with its plan. On October 11, 2020, as per government instruction, LAWDA submitted a Detailed Report Project of INR 291crore for RakheArth. Ghulam Rasool Akhoon, president of Dal Dwellers Welfare Union, told LCW that focusing on the Hanji community diverts public attention from the dismal administrative performance of the government authorities, including the states judiciary. The eviction is another attempt to use the Hanji community as a scapegoat for the deterioration of the Dal. They must get appropriate compensation as per their property values and also be relocated to the Dal Lake, he added. In a 2021 report by Gaon Connection, Foqiya Iftikhar, junior engineer, LAWDA RakheArth sub division, conveyed that the developmental work in the relocation site had come to a standstill due to the COVID19 pandemic and nonpayment of the fees of contractors.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Demand for compensation

Demand for rehabilitation

Other Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Relocation to original land.

Region Classification

Urban

Type of Land

Private

Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):

416.72

Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Page Number In Investment Document:

Has the Conflict Ended?

No

When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Constitutional Law, Central/State Government Policy, Other

Legislations/Policies Involved

Constitution of India, 1950
Article 19 (1) (g) [Right to practice any profession]; Article 21 [Right to life]
National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2007
Paragraph 4 [Social Impact Assessment to be conducted where more than 200 families in hilly areas are affected] Paragraph 7 [Provides for rehabilitation and resettlement of affected families who have lost their house to the extent of actual loss, covering not more than 250 sq mtrs of space in Rural areas]
Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970
Section 16 [Power of the Government for compulsory acquisition of land]
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Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community?

What was the Decision of the Concerned Government Department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

No items found.

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Jammu and Kashmir

Case Number

Main Reasoning/Decision of court

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Displacement

Whether criminal law was used against protestors:

Reported Details of the Violation:

Dal dwellers were forcefully evicted from their land.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Dal Lake

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

J&K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Communities/Local Organisations in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:

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