Bungus Valley:  Eco-tourism, sustainable development crucial to preserve unique biodiversity 

Bungus Valley:  Eco-tourism, sustainable development crucial to preserve unique biodiversity 
Photo: DIPR

Drangyari Chowkibal (Kupwara), Sep 8: Flocks of tourists, including the locals, are visiting Bungus valley these days through the Drangyari route. However, the rapid increase in tourism and development in recent years is raising concerns about their impact on the environment.

Ecotourism and sustainable development in Bangus Valley are crucial for the preservation of its unique biodiversity and the well-being of local communities, directly dependent on it.

Bungus valley, one of the jewels in the mesmerizing beauty of Kashmir, is a relatively unexplored grassland and tourists’ paradise situated in the north-western periphery of Handwara in Kupwara district.

The less explored Bungus valley is as beautiful as Pahalgam, Sonamarg and Gulmarg. Experts say that Asia’s biggest golf course can be made at the place which has green meadows spread over hundreds of canals.

With its scenic beauty, sloppy topography, grassland with flora, streams flowing with trout fish, the Bungus Valley has a great prospect of ecotourism. The place has a great potential to become an international tourist spot.

Bungus Valley has three routes through which people can reach the place, one is from Mawer side of Handwara; second one is from Rajwar side of Handwara and the third one is from Chowkibal, Kupwara.

Every year, the ‘Bungus Awaam Mela’ is organized by the Union Territory administration. Last year, the Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha visited Bungus and said that it was mesmerizing to see such a large gathering at the beautiful valley.

He had also said that the government would work rigorously for overall development of Bungus Valley and its infrastructure.

Although there have been some steps taken to develop it as a tourist spot but the development of Bungus is raising some concerns as well which need attention and action. “Strict measures need to be taken to limit human impact so that its ecosystem, natural and cultural heritage remain preserved,” said a Lecturer, who teaches Environment Science at a college in Srinagar.

He said that there was ample need to create protected areas and restrict human interference. “There should be development but minus any damage to the natural ecosystem,” he said, adding, “Bungus Valley is having a fragile and sensitive ecosystem. Let us ensure that it is left undisturbed as much as possible.”

Shamin Ahmed, who retired as Botany professor said, “Bungus valley is home to hundreds of endemic and endangered species.” “There are lots of rivulets and ecological sensitive reserves,” he said, adding that these natural reserves needed to be saved from human interference.

While the government has claimed that Bungus valley is being developed, the approach road Chowkibal is still incomplete. The visitors still have to trek miles to reach the tourist spot.

Besides, there is hardly any sort of accommodation facility for tourists as the area sans hotels, restaurants, guest houses or prefab huts.

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