New defence project in Gulmarg may usurp wildlife sanctuary, forest land

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 9/6/2019 1:06:47 AM

NEW DELHI, Sep 5: Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary and the famed tourist resort’s forest cover may face some ecological threat as 1.18 hectares of the sanctuary land and 12. 35 hectares of forest will be cleared to set up a defence project, according to a report.
The Indian Express in its today’s edition reported that the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has given its nod for an air defence and weaponry project in Jammu and Kashmir in which 1.18 hectares of Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary land will be used. The project will also cover 12.35 hectares of forest land outside Gulmarg Sanctuary.
According to the report, the proposal, recommended by the then State Chief Wildlife Warden with 17 riders/conditions, was cleared at a July 18 meeting of the standing committee of NBWL. The meeting was chaired by Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar
The radar system in the project is aimed at keeping an eye on aerial movements inside Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, and on attempts to cross the Line of Control. The defence forces lack such monitoring capability in this area. The proposal to construct this radar facility has been a long-pending request from the armed forces that finally started moving last year.
The report also quoted Jammu and Kashmir Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Kumar Gupta as saying that the proposal will be submitted for forest clearance once the wildlife clearance is formally received from NBWL. He added that environment clearance is not needed for all projects, and whether such clearance would be required for the project in question would be known after the forest clearance process.
“NBWL clears proposals of national interest with conditions,” said Gupta, according to the report. “There are things which are in public interest, such as roads that pass through sanctuaries, and NBWL takes a call on such things.”
To ensure survival of highly endangered Musk Deer (Moschus Crysogater), Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary was upgraded from Man and Bio-sphere Reserve in the year 1987. The area is one of the best world renowned tourist destinations for its famous meadows, rocky cliffs, dense birch forests and a home for bird watchers.” The website says the sanctuary has rich flora and fauna bio-diversity with variegated species like musk deer, common leopard, barking deer, Asiatic black bear, Himalayan black bear, Indian wolf, snow cock, chakor.



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