Srinagar: The District administration in Kupwara is all set to axe over 50 fruit-bearing walnut trees in Handwara to pave way for the construction of a transit camp for the rehabilitation of Kashmir Pandits.
In an order issued by the Divisional Kashmir, the district administration Kupwara has been directed to extend the auction notice of axing the walnut trees from 14 September 2021 for 30 days.
“Grant of permission to the felling down of (51) fifty one walnut trees falling under Survey No.462 Min situated at village Kulangam Bagh Tehsil Handwara District Kupwara coming under the alignment of construction of transit accommodation at Kulangam Bagh Tehsil Handwara District Kupwara in favour of the Tehsildar Handwara,” reads the subject of the order, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer.
It further states, “he enforcement validity of above mentioned permission order which was valid for a period of 60 days w.e.f 24-11-2020 has expired, and is hereby extended for a further period of 30 days w.e.f 14-09-2021 subject to the conditions already laid down in the permit order issued under endorsement No: DivCom / TS / 1633 / 2020 / 193-97 dated:24-11-2020,”
Additional Deputy Commissioner, Handwara, Nazir Ahmad Mir told Kashmir Observer on Saturday that the order of axing the trees was issued last year but there was no response for the same.
“Now we have issued the auction again,” Mir added.
Chief Horticulture Kupwara, Farooq Ahmad Tantray told Kashmir Observer that they were asked to give their “technical opinion” and value of the trees and the same was submitted last year.
“It’s a state land and 51 walnut trees that will be axed belongs to public,” he told Kashmir Observer, adding “according to rules 40% compensation will given to affected persons,”
On Friday, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said that rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits was the core concern of Prime Minister Narendra Modi led government at the centre.
Sonowal, who visited Baramulla as part of Union Government's special public outreach programme, also laid the foundation stone of a transit camp that will be constructed for accommodation of 336 Kashmiri Pandit migrant families at a cost of Rs 40 crore as part of efforts to rehabilitate them in the Kashmir Valley.
Naib Tehsildar Handwara, Saleem Shams told Kashmir Observer that the camp will be constructed on 24 kanals.
In January 2021, the horticulture department wrote to the Jammu and Kashmir administration to end the ban on axing old walnut trees in order to increase plantation of hybrid quality of the fruit.
The proposal was mooted five decades after the ban was imposed in 1969, when the Jammu and Kashmir Preservation of Specified Trees Act was enacted for prevention of cutting, as well as pruning, of walnut trees even if they stood on private land.
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