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August 31, 2017 | Shafat Mir

Activists, locals stall attempt to macadamize road inside protected area in Pahalgam

 In clear violation of 1978 Wildlife Protection Act, Roads and Buildings department has been trying to macadamise some 1.5 Kilometre stretch inside Overa-Aru wild life sanctuary in Mamal, Pahalgam. The department is doing all this to benefit some influential hoteliers who have constructed huts and hotels in the midst of forests in Mamal area of famed tourist spot Pahalgam in Anantnag district, according to locals.
This area is uninhabited and no locality existed in this area in the past also.
The new structures, like hotels and huts, have been erected by chopping off green pine trees, years ago, in this eco-sensitive area of Lidder forest range which could severely affect the wildlife existing in the area.
As per the relevant provisions of J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 the Roads and Buildings department is supposed to get a proper permission, a Non-Objection Certificate, from the department of Wildlife for any construction inside such protected place.
“R&B department had not approached for permission and we were informed by other sources, on time about their activity. We have driven out all their machinery from that spot and stopped the violation”, said DFO Anantnag, Intisar Suhail.
Pertinently, “the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice, Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magray had directed in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL No. 08/2017) titled “Environment Policy Group {EPG} Vs. Union of India and others” that demarcation of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves should be carried out by all the agencies under the authority of Commissioner Secretary, Department of Forest. The court also directed vide order dated 18-08-2017 and reiterated its earlier direction that there should be complete ban on constructions and no further construction should be carried out in any of these protected areas”, reads a letter shot to Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, by Centre For Environmental Law, an environmental group.
This group says that laying a black topped road inside a wildlife sanctuary will interfere in the habitat of endangered Hangul and other wildlife too.
Spread over 500 sq.km, Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, consisting of lush green pine forests and high peaks is home to several endangered species like, Hangul deer, Rhesus Macaque, Grey Langur, Serow, Himalayan Hare, Leopard.
“The R&B department at the behest of some top officials has been trying to black top this road several times, since past many years, to benefit few people. There is no locality existent in that area and it is pointless to construct a road inside the forest. The illegal construction in this part, years ago, has already defaced it and these structures should be demolished in order to save the glory of this sanctuary”, says an activist, Irfan Ahmed.
Contrary to Wildlife Department Official's version, the R&B official denied having initiated any such work inside Sanctuary area.
“We did not venture inside the area under Wildlife sanctuary to black top it and obviously without the NOC from Wildlife department, we would never initiate any such work”, said Superintending Engineer R&B Anantnag Division, Sami Arif.

 

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August 31, 2017 | Shafat Mir

Activists, locals stall attempt to macadamize road inside protected area in Pahalgam

              

 In clear violation of 1978 Wildlife Protection Act, Roads and Buildings department has been trying to macadamise some 1.5 Kilometre stretch inside Overa-Aru wild life sanctuary in Mamal, Pahalgam. The department is doing all this to benefit some influential hoteliers who have constructed huts and hotels in the midst of forests in Mamal area of famed tourist spot Pahalgam in Anantnag district, according to locals.
This area is uninhabited and no locality existed in this area in the past also.
The new structures, like hotels and huts, have been erected by chopping off green pine trees, years ago, in this eco-sensitive area of Lidder forest range which could severely affect the wildlife existing in the area.
As per the relevant provisions of J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978 the Roads and Buildings department is supposed to get a proper permission, a Non-Objection Certificate, from the department of Wildlife for any construction inside such protected place.
“R&B department had not approached for permission and we were informed by other sources, on time about their activity. We have driven out all their machinery from that spot and stopped the violation”, said DFO Anantnag, Intisar Suhail.
Pertinently, “the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice, Badar Durrez Ahmad and Justice Ali Mohammad Magray had directed in the Public Interest Litigation (PIL No. 08/2017) titled “Environment Policy Group {EPG} Vs. Union of India and others” that demarcation of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Conservation Reserves should be carried out by all the agencies under the authority of Commissioner Secretary, Department of Forest. The court also directed vide order dated 18-08-2017 and reiterated its earlier direction that there should be complete ban on constructions and no further construction should be carried out in any of these protected areas”, reads a letter shot to Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, by Centre For Environmental Law, an environmental group.
This group says that laying a black topped road inside a wildlife sanctuary will interfere in the habitat of endangered Hangul and other wildlife too.
Spread over 500 sq.km, Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, consisting of lush green pine forests and high peaks is home to several endangered species like, Hangul deer, Rhesus Macaque, Grey Langur, Serow, Himalayan Hare, Leopard.
“The R&B department at the behest of some top officials has been trying to black top this road several times, since past many years, to benefit few people. There is no locality existent in that area and it is pointless to construct a road inside the forest. The illegal construction in this part, years ago, has already defaced it and these structures should be demolished in order to save the glory of this sanctuary”, says an activist, Irfan Ahmed.
Contrary to Wildlife Department Official's version, the R&B official denied having initiated any such work inside Sanctuary area.
“We did not venture inside the area under Wildlife sanctuary to black top it and obviously without the NOC from Wildlife department, we would never initiate any such work”, said Superintending Engineer R&B Anantnag Division, Sami Arif.

 

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