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Encroachments galore:Govt fails to demarcate forest land in Kashmir

Hirra Azmat

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SRINAGAR: Encroachment of over one lakh kanals of forests has failed to move the Jammu and Kashmir government to demarcate woodland in the valley.

Official figures of Forest Department accessed by The Kashmir Monitor reveal that 103705 kanals of forest area is under encroachments in the valley.

An official of Forest Department said half of forests in Kashmir are without demarcation.

 

“Eight-year-ago, government had decided to demarcate forest land in Kashmir. It was also decided existing boundary pillars will be strengthened but nothing has been done so far,” he said.

However, artificial demarcation of boundaries was done at few places. “Civilian population is also residing in forest areas including Dachigam National Park, posing a serious threat to its species,” the official said.

Nonexistent boundaries and lack of proper fencing has led to the habitat degradation as cattle go on a grazing spree in the upper reaches of Dachigam.

Officials blame non-demarcation of forests for the increase in wildfires. “Had the forests been demarcated, less fire incidents would have happened,” the official said.

Official data reveals that more than 55, 000 kanals of forest area have been destroyed in 859 wildfire incidents in Kashmir for the last five years.

Figures reveal that highest number of incidents were reported during 2016- 2017, when 371 fire-incidents damaged 30202 kanals of forest land. This was followed by 192 wildfires engulfing 13,699 kanals of land during 2017-2018. 121 forest fires wreaked havoc on 4171 kanals of land during 2015- 2016.

Around 111 wildfires occurred in 2014-2015 which destroyed 3984 kanals of land. The most affected areas include Lidder and Kamraj where 227 and 121 forest fires occurred respectively.

An environment panel headed by former legislator MY Tarigami had asked Jammu and Kashmir government to demarcate forest lands to stop encroachments and adopt appropriate mechanisms to check the pollution from brick kilns.

The committee had suggested that the Forest Department must take all necessary steps to demarcate the entire forest land to avoid day-to-day encroachment efforts by unscrupulous elements for their ulterior motives. 

Secretary Forests and Environment Manoj Kumar Dwivedi said government has taken up several measures to conserve forest wealth.  “Vulnerable areas in forests are being demarcated on priority basis. It requires a large funding for demarcation of entire forest land,” he said.


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State

GoI to setup IT infra in J&K: Prasad

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Union Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology and Law & Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad Wednesday said Government will setup every required infrastructure for development and export of IT products from J&K UT.

He said this after inaugurating the incubation facility at Srinagar Technology Parks of India Srinagar.

Advisor to Lt Governor Farooq Khan, DG STPI Dr Omkar Rai, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary, CEO Mission Youth Dr Syed Abid Rashid Shah, Director STPI Srinagar Asim Ahmed Khan was also present on the occasion.

 

“The incubation facility will provide opportunities to IT entrepreneurs by providing plug-n-play and other digital infrastructure along with regulatory support to develop and export IT products from the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

Later the Minister had a tour of the STPI complex where officials informed him about the various facilities provided by the center for software entrepreneurs of J&K.

He also interacted with young entrepreneurs and IT experts of some software companies who are using the space and other facilities of the STPI for development and export of their softwares for the outside market.

The additional facility of about 24,000 sqft will meet the growing demand of IT/ITES MSMEs of the region.

The officials informed the Minister that J&K has three STP units; employing around 140 resources are registered with STPI.  They added that for financial year of 2019-20, estimated exports from these units are expected to be around Rs 6.76 crore.

The Minister directed the officials to facilitate young software developers and encourage them to become successful software development entrepreneurs.

On the occasion, DG STPI informed the Minister that MEITY and STPI are in the process of getting various collaborating partners onboard to setup centers of excellence in the areas of Agritech, Horticulture under IOT domain.

To establish these COEs, STPI is working with Higher Education Department of J&K for allocation of space at University of Jammu and SP College Srinagar.

Later, the Union Minister also visited National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology Srinagar.

Advisor to Lt Governor, Farooq Khan, Vice Chancellor, Kashmir University, Prof. Talat Ahmed, DG NIELIT & Joint Secretary (MeitY) Dr Jaideep Kumar Mishra, DG STPI Dr Omkar Rai, Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Chowdhary, CEO Mission Youth Dr Syed Abid Rashid Shah, Director STPI Srinagar Asim Ahmed Khan and other officials were present on the occasion.

On the occasion, the Union Minister inaugurated two separate hostel buildings for boys and girls besides an IT lab with a capacity of 40 seats.

He interacted with students and faculty and asked them about the facilities in the institute and scope for improvement.

The Minister was informed about the ongoing course Cyber Shiksha – a skill development initiative for women in cyber security. The officials informed the Minister that out of a batch of 22 girls, 12 have got placed in different companies.

The Minister asked the officials to train and place the Kashmiri youth in different job-oriented courses including artificial intelligence, Block chain etc.

He said that he will personally monitor the training and placement of Kashmir students in different software courses.

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5 more detained politicians released

Press Trust of India

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Srinagar, Jan 16: Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday released five politicians including three former legislators after keeping them in preventive detention for more than five months following abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution.

Officials said the five mainstream politicians were released from preventive detention this afternoon.

The leaders who were released include Altaf Kaloo (ex-MLA National Conference), Showkat Ganaie (ex-MLC National Conference) and Nizamuddin Bhat (ex-MLC PDP).

 

Former mayor of Srinagar Municipal Corporation Salman Sagar (National Conference) and Mukhtar Bandh (PDP) were also released.

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Abrogation of Art 370 a historic step: Army chief

Press Trust of India

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New Delhi, Jan 15: Army chief Gen M M Naravane on Wednesday hailed the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 as a “historic step” and said the move has disrupted plans of the “western neighbour and its proxies”.

The armed forces have “zero tolerance against terrorism”, he said at the 72nd Army Day function in the Cariappa Parade Ground here.

We have many options to counter those who promote terrorism and we will not hesitate to use them,” he said.

 

On August 5 last year, the Centre abrogated provisions of Article 370 that gave special powers to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two union territories.

The Army chief said, “Abrogation of Article 370 is a historic step. It will prove to be important in integrating Jammu and Kashmir in the national mainstream. This decision has disrupted the plans of our western neighbour and its proxies”.

Gen Naravane said the country had to face some security challenges last year.

“Not only it countered proxy war but other situations. Whether it is LoC (Line of Control) or LAC (Line of Actual Control), we have ensured security with activeness and strength,” he said, adding the situation at northern borders (China border) is relatively peaceful.

The Army chief said the situation along the LoC is linked with situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

“Today, we remember those who have made ultimate sacrifice for the country. It will keep inspiring the coming generations,” he said.

Mentioning his visit to Siachen last week, he said he was extremely happy to see all the ranks brimming with confidence at the post.

“In last few days, some of our soldiers achieved martyrdom due to avalanche. We will always remember their sacrifice,” he noted.

Dhanush and K-Vajra gun systems were showcased for the first time in the Army parade.

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