Pahalgam, June 10: With increasing man-animal conflicts becoming a grave concern with each passing day and experts blaming humans for disturbing the natural habitat, people with strong political connections and "big babus" are out to encroach pastures in the Wildlife protected areas in this world famous tourist resort, nearly 95 kms south of Srinagar.
"From past many years many influential people have encroached upon the forest and Wildlife land in Pahalgam, ravaging its fragile ecology and also causing disturbance to the natural Wildlife habitat," sources said.
"The C-16 Zone of Mammal Wildlife sanctuary was put under permissible zone in the Master plan of 2006 to benefit the cohorts of top bureaucrats and politicians," they added.
"These highly influential people in connivance with Wildlife and Forest department plunder nature by resorting to ruthless chopping of trees and using the same timber to construct illegal structures. Thus creating ecological imbalance and disturbing the habitat of wild animals," sources added.
Furthermore, they said that many people have also constructed tin sheds and have dumped construction material there. "Similar constructions have come up in D-1, D-2, D-3 and D-4 zones of Khilan upto the Langni bridge. Though, in the Master plan the construction should be 150 feet away from the Lidder river but it violates this too, thus polluting it," sources added.
In the Aru Wildlife zone locals allege that hundreds of Kanal of land have been encroached upon by many influential people with the tacit support of Wildlife officials, revenue and PDA officials posted in the area. "At Aru you will see many big patches of land in the Wildlife zone having been encroached upon by many influential people and the Wildlife officials are watching as mute spectators," said locals.
"There are at least 600 Gujjar and shepherd families living in the wildlife protected sanctuaries of Aru and other adjoining areas for past many decades. These cannot be shifted till some alternative place is found for them," a top wildlife official told Greater Kashmir.
"As per Supreme Court directions and the state Wildlife protection act this tribal community can neither sell nor lease out the land provided to them. Even if the government intends to construct a road there it has to seek the Supreme Court's consent at the instance of National Wildlife Advisory Board," he added.
When contacted, Chief Wildlife warden, Mushtaq Ahmad Parsa said, "We have already deputed the development official of Revenue department to identify 48 private plots wherein 12 plots notified were found to be inside a sanctuary but there was no construction there. The rest of the plots were given proprietary status before the wildlife department took it in custody."
He blamed the Police and Pahalgam Development Authority (PDA). " They are supporting some influential people to undergo construction in the wildlife zone."