'Army should shift from Tosamaidan'
Locals, Wildlife, Forests Affected By Firing Exercises: Altaf
Srinagar, June 5: Minister for Forests Mian Altaf Sunday said the armed forces stationed in Tosamaidan meadow in central Kashmir’s Budgam district should be shifted to some other place. He said the firing exercises conducted by the forces were affecting not only wildlife and forests but also causing inconvenience to the locals.
“We will take up the matter with Army authorities to shift to some other place as locals are facing problems during the specific firing exercises in Tosamaidan. Besides, the exercises also affect the forest and wildlife,” Altaf told Greater Kashmir on the sidelines of a function at the SK International Convention Centre here. The function was organized by the Department of Environment and Remote Sensing to mark the World Environment Day.
Tosamaidan is about 50 kilometers from Srinagar and lies in the Pirpanjal mountain range between Gulmarg and Doodpathri. Every year the armed forces carry out shelling and firing exercises in the landlocked valley which affects the movement of locals. Environment and tourism experts have opined that the takeover of Tosamaidan by the state can help converting it into a favored tourist destination given its picturesque surroundings and glaciers.
Altaf admitted that the flora and fauna is disturbed by the exercises.
Referring to the ‘loss’ to the forests and environment when the previous government ruled the state, he said “the present government did damage control to safeguard forests and environment from extinction.”
“There was a huge loss to forests and environment during the past regime. There was rule of smugglers in the forests. Now it is the government directions which are imposed in the forests of Jammu and Kashmir, especially in Pirpanjal range. Change is there for anyone to see. I can’t say what we have done in the past two and a half years is all perfect but we dealt with critical areas where damage was done to forests with regard to encroachments,” he said, adding “our drive to save forests and environment will continue.”
Admitting delay in cleaning and removal of encroachments in Asia’s largest water body, Wular Lake, Altaf said it would start in July and similar steps shall be taken for other lakes as well.
“As regards wetlands our biggest challenge is Dal Lake overlooked by an agency. But there is delay in cleaning of Wular Lake which is going to start from next month. The cleaning drive would be taken to other lakes also and encroachments will be removed as we did in Dal. However there are lakes whose condition is good,” he said, asserting that “there is a decline in the number and area of wetlands in the valley depicted by a survey conducted by the Environment and Remote Sensing Department.”
Altaf informed that State Council for Climate Change has been framed. It would be headed by Chief Minster along with some important ministries, commissioners and experts for the betterment of environment and climate.
“Last week a meeting was convened for the same but it didn’t mature. In near future, its first meeting will be held,” he said.
The Minster for Forests and Environment, Mian Altaf on Sunday launched website of the Department of Environment and Remote Sensing.
Officials said the website would highlight activities of the Department and also seek valuable suggestions from the people especially environmentalists for conservation of the State’s fragile environment. Altaf also released the Department’s three publications on lakes, grazing land and wasteland.
On the occasion, the Director Environment and Remote Sensing, Ravi Kumar Kesar said that the World Environment Day is an initiative which calls for participation and active role in the protection and conservation of forests in the State.
Regional Director, Environment and Remote Sensing Kashmir, Mian Javed Hussein appreciated role of the Mian Altaf in conservation of environment.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 5 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 6 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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