The move by Jammu and Kashmir Government to strictly implement the fresh Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) issued by the Centre on environmental safeguards in developmental projects is a very significant and a welcome step.
Such measures are always required here and must have been taken much earlier as Jammu and Kashmir is vulnerable to natural disasters. Now, since the initiative has been taken and it is being hoped that the guidelines will help, in true sense, to protect the eco-fragile environment here.
According to reports, the SOP is stressing on mandatory disaster management plans, risk assessment and eco-fragility studies in development projects particularly the construction of highways, roads and tunnels within 100 km of the International Border (IB) or the Line of Control (LoC).
Lot of developmental works have been carried across Jammu and Kashmir in the past. Sometimes at some places the locals were unhappy with the executing agencies not following SOPs or safeguards during their work. Like recently a landslide hit a Kangan village, damaging some houses and structures.
The affected villagers alleged that the executing agency had not taken preventive measures during tunnel construction work which caused a landslide. An inquiry was ordered by the authorities after the mishap to probe the matter.
Since lot of developmental works are in progress in Jammu and Kashmir and more such works will be launched in near future, the government's move to follow the SOP will help in avoiding the mishaps and disasters.
As per the reports, the SOP have been formulated by the Union Environment Ministry in the aftermath of Joshimath disaster in Uttarakhand where thousands of people were rendered homeless.
Cracks had developed in their houses after caving in of the foundations of the structures. According to experts the disaster was mainly caused due to haphazard construction of projects including tunnels in the mountainous areas.
These mistakes have to be avoided in Jammu and Kashmir. Otherwise, we will be having same problems like that of Joshimath.
Much damage has been already caused to the fragile environment here by a section of people and also due to the apathy and callousness of the successive governments in the past.
The present government, aware of its responsibilities in this direction, has decided to follow the fresh SOP and guidelines issued by the Union Environment Ministry.
More such steps, which are required at the local level, must be also taken. All steps are needed to protect the environment and avert the natural disasters as much as possible.