Kishenganga Project, Yatra a threat to Kashmir ecology: Experts

SRINAGAR: Experts here predict an environmental catastrophe if corrective measures were not taken while organizing the annual Hindu pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave and building of the ambitious Kishenganga Hydro Electric Power Project. Various debates and discussions were organized across Srinagar on the eve of International Biodiversity Day.

“The 320 Megawatt Kishenganga Hydro

Electric Power Project is coming up  in the fragile environment of

Bandipore and Gurez. The project is hurting the wildlife and other natural

 resources, “ experts said during a seminar here. The seminar was organized by a group of professionals who have espoused the cause of environment preservation. “Thousands of trees have been chopped in Gurez and Bandipora  till date and

hundreds of hectares of forestland has been diverted towards this

power project which was home to endangered snow-leopards, hangul deer,

barking deer, musk deer, black bear, markhor, ibex, marmot, monkeys and

several exotic species of flowers and plants,” said Engineer M M Idreeshul Haq, who heads Social Royal Voluntary Environmental Service. 

 He said the government functionaries behaved like “ecological illiterates” when it came to issues of preserving J&K’s biodiversity.

Quoting from the data that was recently presented in the state assembly, Haq said the assembly session had proposed an  amendment as  J&K Wildlife

(Protection) Bill, 2014 which was  about deleting the Schedule – VI

(Specified Plant list on 116 Species) and adopting the Schedule – VI

of Indian Wildlife (Protection) ACT, 1972 with only 6 Plant Species,

and in that list  only one specie of Plant Kuth (Saussurea costus)

 belongs to the State and remaining five species even weren’t  native  to

J&K State, which would result in  Immense  increase in smuggling of

the already present precious Plant species of the state and even

extinction of  those plant species.”

 

  He further said, “ The Amarnath Yatra season  which is  beginning in

the ending week of june ,needs much environmental considerations, I

request the government of Jammu & Kashmir to be strict  in the  matter of

the ecological terms and issue guidelines for the pilgrims for helping

in conservation of the fragile natural habitat of the state.”

The speakers also proposed that cash fine should be realized from the violators of the environmental guidelines during the forthcoming yatra.

Pertinently, 22 May is the International day for Biological Diversity,

and this year the theme is island biodiversity . This day is

particularly  important in view of declaration of 2010 as the

International Year of Biodiversity by the United Nations General

Assembly.

The experts have recalled the waning glacial health over the Himalayas, high risk to biodiversity loss and accompanying

degradation of a broad range of ecosystem services, and warned of an environmental catastrophe. ” If the ecosystems are

pushed beyond certain thresholds the day is not far  when we all

soon will see extinction of most of our plant and animal species.”

According to recent data acquired from the ministry of

environment and forest ,the extent of forest land being diverted

across the country on an average stands at 135 hectares (around 333

acres) per day. Such diversions are done on various pretexts, say for

power plants, industrial or river valley projects.

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