Civil society alarmed at destruction of green gold
Hundreds of forest trees have been cut down in different forest areas of this central Kashmir district to lay 220 kV Srinagar-Leh transmission line.
An official said the work on the project executed by Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL), has already been taken up and hundreds of trees have been cut down.
The felling of green gold including Kail and walnut trees has caused strong resentment in the district with the civil society of Kangan and Ganderbal raising voice against the “destruction”.
“There will be a serious impact on the environment as the forest wealth from Kangan to Sonamarg in Sindh range is being plundered under the garb of laying of the transmission line,” said convener civil society Ganderbal Dr Khurshid Ahmed.
An official in the forest department said they have been directed to allow felling of the trees by the government.
He said the executing company had sought permission to cut down around 14,000 small and large trees. However, he said, the department has allowed to cut only 1000 trees.
A source said around 15 forest compartments of Sindh forest range including 22, 23, 23A, 23B, 23C, 27, 28, 65 and 68 would be impacted by the project. “In compartments 23A, 23B and 23C alone 400 trees are being felled,” the source said.
A PGCIL official said they have deposited compensation against felling of trees with forest department after getting clearance from various departments.
“The felling of the trees has been cleared by forest advisory committee and several other departments,” he said.
Head of earth sciences department at Kashmir University Shakil Ramshoo said the project would have serious impact on the environment.
He said transmission line could have been realigned to avoid “destruction of forest”.
“The government must ensure to compensate the loss by undertaking afforestation program,” he said.
The transmission line was approved in January 2014 and is scheduled for commissioning in November 2018. Once completed, it will interlink J&K’s existing power system with Ladakh.