Wildlife officer raises alarm; seeks action from LAWDA
KD NEWS SERVICE
SRINAGAR, July 24: Taking advantage of last year’s law and order situation and current COVID pandemic, son of Mubarak Gul, a senior National Conference leader and former speaker of J&K legislative assembly has allegedly encroached upon wildlife conservation reserve land at Shalimar and raised some constructions in brazen violation of norms.
Documents in possession of Kashmir Despatch, revealed that Younis Gul son of Mubarak Gul has unauthorized raised some concrete structures at Dossani Nala, Bonigam Shalimar which falls within Brain-Nishat wildlife conservation reserve and also falls within the jurisdiction of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA).
A letter has been shot by the wildlife warden central division Srinagar to vice chairman LAWDA seeking demolition of illegal construction at Nishat Conservation reserve. “As reported by the Range Officer, Dachigam that Sh. Younis Gul son of Mubarak Gul resident of Srinagar has un-authorizedly raised some concrete structure at Dossani Nala, Bonigam-Shalimar which falls within Brain-Nishat wildlife conservation reserve and also falls within LAWDA jurisdiction,” reads the letter number WLWC/Estt/2020-21/787-89 dated July 22, 2020.
Through this letter, the wildlife warden central division Srinagar has sought directions from the VC LAWDA to his subordinate office (enforcement wing) to initiate cognizance in the matter.
Pertinently as per the J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act 1978, no person is allowed to destroy or damage or divert the habitat (conservation reserve land) or even enhance the flow of water into or outside the conservation reserve not to talk of raising concrete structures.
“Provided that any minor forest produce so removed for the betterment of the conservation reserve, may be used for meeting the personal bonafide needs of the people living in and around the conservation reserve and shall not be used for commercial purposes, either by the government or the recipient local people,” reads the J&K Wildlife (Protection) Act 1978.
A senior officer in the department of forest while talking to Kashmir Despatch said, “When the government itself is not authorized to use the minor produce from the conservation reserve for commercial gains, how, can the government allow the brazen violation of wildlife norms by facilitating concrete structures within the wildlife reserves puts a question mark on the J&K government’s functioning.”
Sources said that there is a deep rooted nexus involving black sheep within LAWDA, Revenue, Police, Wildlife and Forest departments who are hand in glove in facilitating huge encroachments on wildlife and forest land in the green belt area which falls within the jurisdiction of LAWDA.
A senior officer in LAWDA’s enforcement wing when asked about the issue told Kashmir Despatch, “We have received a letter from the wildlife department highlighting the brazen encroachment within wildlife conservation reserve which falls within our jurisdiction. We visited the identified site alongwith a team from the forest and wildlife department and the complaint has proven correct. There are few concrete structures which have been raised in violation of law. We will surely take a serious action in the matter very soon.”
Altaf Hussain, wildlife warden central division, when contacted, told Kashmir Despatch: “We have already shot a letter highlighting these encroachments before the LAWDA. We expect some concrete action within a day or two. I am aware that there are more such violations in areas like Shalimar and Nishat but we are seized of the matter and we will surely take strict action in this direction.”
He sought the support from police and revenue departments to weed out the rot and take legal action against the encroachers whosever, he or she may be. “Since we are yet to demarcate these areas but that does not mean anybody is allowed to go for rampant constructions in wildlife conservation reserve areas which is totally barred under law,” he added.
When asked about this issue, Mubarak Gul, National Conference senior leader and former Speaker feigned complete ignorance. Gul told Kashmir Despatch, “I don’t know about this issue. I think I will have to check why our names have been mentioned in the letter shot by the wildlife department. There is some confusion which needs to be removed.”