Worst Form of Vandalization
Heritage Saffron Land on the Verge of Extinction
That saffron land, heritage of Kashmir, can be vandalized in broad day light and that administration cannot do anything about it shows how serious the situation is.
On 2nd May, a delegation of concerned citizens from Pampore went to meet Divisional Commissioner Kashmir Asgar Hasan Samoon. He gave a patient hearing to the delegation and promised to take necessary action against soil mafia of Pampore who have leveled miles of karewas by their huge earthmovers. Next day the Additional Divisional Commissioner (ADC) Kashmir, Mr. Abdul Majeed Mir came to the town to have on spot assessment of the sites where illegal excavation of saffron soil was being done. Flanked by a citizen-delegation and the revenue officials of the town including Tehsildar Pampore Mr. Zaffar Shawl, the ADC went to (read: was taken to) Dusoo, where soil excavation is being done on Auqaf land with requisite permission. Next he was taken to Chandhara, the same village where celebrated Kashmiri poetess Habba Khatoon was born. But according to the members of the citizen-delegation who accompanied the ADC, “the Tehsildar deliberately kept him from going to the actual spot where soil excavation was being done”.
When asked why would he do that, they alleged that, “the higher officials of the revenue department are themselves part of this illegal soil excavation business and that is the reason why they were reluctant to take the ADC to the actual sites”.
“We are not satisfied with the ADC’s visit,” they complained. According to them the ADC was not taken to the major sites like Samboora and Chandhara, where from saffron soil is supplied for different projects, particularly for the four-lane highway project.
The citizen-delegation alleged that when one of them pressed ADC to inspect the actual spot at Chandhara, the Tehsildar, instead of taking the lead, used the offensive language against him. This infuriated the delegation members, who protested against the official’s abusive behavior.
“No self-respecting person can accept such a language” says Ghulam Nabi Shiekh, one of the citizen-delegation members “We are not deaf and dumb cattle who would accept what ever the officials will tell us.” He further says: “Our saffron land is being vandalized by soil mafia and the revenue department is just watching like mute spectator as if nothing wrong is happening. This is unacceptable”.
When I tried to contact the Tehsildar Pampore Mr. Zaffar Shawl for his comments, he refused to say anything about the matter.
According to the members of The Traders Federation Pampore, “The only way to redress this problem of illegal excavation of our saffron land is to transfer the inefficient and corrupt officials of the revenue department”.
“If despite hundreds of complaints the concerned authorities are not able to curb this problem, that means they are either inefficient or corrupt or both,” they reason.
Contractors presently excavating saffron soil from the illegal sites deny that they are vandalizing saffron land. According to a contractor (who wished not to be named) “At Chandhara we are excavating from maidani land not from saffron land and excavating soil from maidani land is not illegal”.
But according to a revenue official (name withheld) “Even if they are excavating from maidani land, they do not possess requisite permission and they are doing it illegally”.
According to the Additional Divisional Commissioner Pulwama, Mr. Muneer ul Islam, “We have only granted permission at Malangpora for soil excavation, all excavation sites on saffron land are illegal”.
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 13 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 13 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 14 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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