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HC bans immersion of idols, bathing in Udaipur lakes

gangaur-ghat-udaipurUdaipur : In an historic verdict, the Rajasthan High Court on Wednesday  imposed a ban on all  activities including bathing and laundry wash , causing pollution to the lakes in Udaipur.  Issuing directions to the collector to ensure compliance of the decision, the court even warned cancellation of license of the hotels -restaurants situated on lake banks if they continue to discharge waste in the water bodies. The decision attracted large applauds from the civil society and NGOs that have been striving hard for years to lay check on the high level of pollution in the lakes which are considered the life line of the city.

Imposing a complete ban on  immersion of idols of hindu deities and ‘Tajiyas’ by the muslim community  , in the Pichhola, Fatesh Sagar, Badi Talab and Govardhan Sagar lakes the court said “ any act causing pollution to the lakes shall be treated as Public Nuisance defined under 268 of Indian Penal Code and shall also be treated as an offense of “ fouling water of public reservoir described under section 277 IPC in addition to the offense provided under relevant environmental laws”.

The judgement was passed by a division bench comprising Justice Govind Mathur and Justice Jaishree Thakur at its principal seat in Jodhpur after the final hearing on a public interest litigation (PIL) held on Tuesday.  The HC had taken a suo-motu cognizance on the issue of pollution in Udaipur water bodies up after a news item published in TOI on October 8titled “ Dirty lakes dead fish mark end of festive season”.  Referring to the TOI article, the court instructed the collector to avail an undertaking from all hotels, guest houses and restaurants situated in the 250 meters periphery of the banks of the lakes, to the effect that they will not throw any kind of organic or inorganic waste and shall also not open waste flowing outlets therein. “ In the event of violating the undertaking, the district collector shall be empowered to recommend the authority competent for cancellation of their license” the court warned.

The process of cancellation of license shall be in addition to the prosecution of erring management for criminal liability, the decision read.  Keeping in mind the religious sentiments of the people, though the court allowed celebrations of festivals like Gangaur, Ramrevari, Hariyali Amavasya at the lake banks, however, it said that no one shall be permitted to engage or throw any material in lake water that may cause public nuisance. The HC allowed only for symbolic immersion of ‘Tajiyas’ at  Lake Pichhola taken out by the muslim community in the month of ‘Ashura’ during Moharram celebration. During the course of arguments Dr. Pushpendra Singh Bhati, the additional advocate general (AAG) pointed out various impediments including a legal case pending at Udaipur court in implementation of various projects towards laying effective check on pollution of water bodies. However, the court expressed discontent over the measures taken by the administration and implied on the necessity for stringent actions. “ We are inclined to allow some time sought by district administration Udaipur to implement their projects, but looking to the recurring damage that is being caused to the lakes, we deem it appropriate to pass directions” the judgement said.

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