Srinagar, Oct 16: Forest fire has emerged as a major problem in Jammu and Kashmir as the fire is not only swallowing green gold, but is also producing a huge amount of smoke, spreading respiratory problems among the local population.
During the current year fire broke out in the upper reaches of Brein and Nishat, spreading to Dachigam National Park and continued till several weeks.
In January, fire broke out in Zabarwan mountain range, which engulfed its 50-60 hectares of the forest.
In 2017, a similar incident continued for two days and damaged a vast area. Similarly, fire also broke out in a forest in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district. The incidents of forests fire have been witnessing a drastic increase across the Valley.In 2016, as many as 71 forest fires have been witnessed in Kashmir, with areas like north and south Kashmir reporting such incidents frequently.
Prior to it, the valley in 2015 had witnessed 49 fire incidents in forests, with north Kashmir reporting 24 of them. “We are losing our forests. It was Sufi Saint, Sheikh-ul-Alam, ‘Ann Posh Tele Yele Wanposh’, which means food is subservient to forests,” an official told early times.
An official report of the forest department reveals the natural causes of forest fires are reported to be less than 5% of the total number of fires caused in a year while 95 percent are manmade that could be prevented by preventive measures by the government and the people alike.
The forests mostly fall in dry temperate class. These forests are predominantly having conifers comprising of Deodar, Kail and Fir. These forests are not normally vulnerable to forest fires as they are predominately having evergreen species and lush green ground cover.
The report has suggested the government to take some measures to prevent the man made forest fires in the state.
“There needs a connectivity by providing wireless sets / cell phones, mobility facilities (some pickup Vans) and proper gear for the staff to save themselves from any injury while extinguishing fires, first aid kits for emergencies and tools for carrying out the fire control operations,” the report reads.
The report, says that for quick detection there should be provision of engaging local fire watchers during the fire season for ground patrolling.
“For quick action sufficient labour force and staff is required to be deployed. Arrangement of tools, food, water and lighting should be there as the process of fire extinguishing sometimes may take days together. The arrangement of transportation of men and material should be available,” it adds.
However, the official of the forest department told that no such measures are being taken by the government.
“The most common cause of forest fire is man-made which can be either because of carelessness or deliberate and intentional. Had government taken some measures such incidents could have been prevented,” he said.
The JK Forest Policy was approved in 2011, its basic objective was conservation of biodiversity and natural habitat through preservation of natural forests with the vast variety of flora and fauna. The recorded forest area is 20230 sq. kms, which constitutes 19.95 % of geographical area of the state.
Poll battle shifts to Anantnag, 18 candidates in fray
Srinagar, Apr 20: The poll battle has now shifted to Anantnag Parliamentary Constituency, spread over four south Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama, where 13.93 lakh voters will decide the fate of 18 candidates in three phases — April 23, April 29 and May 6.
The Election Commission (EC) has decreased the polling hours by two hours in the constituency.
The polling will be held between 0700 hrs to 1600 hrs for security reasons.
Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, state Congress president G A Mir and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi are among the 18 candidates seeking mandate from the constituency where polling will be held in three phases because of security reasons.
Considered as stronghold of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following its win in 11 out of 16 Assembly segments in 2014, the constituency has witnessed major change after the party formed coalition government with the BJP in the state.
The constituency witnessed encounters and youth joined militancy after the unholy alliance between PDP and BJP,’ opposition said.
Though all political parties, including National Conference (NC), PDP, BJP and Congress organised poll meetings under very heavy security cover, majority people remained indifferent to election process.
The campaigning so far witnessed some militant attacks, including hurling grenades, firing on a vehicle carrying poll material, besides stone pelting.
Due to security reasons, bypoll could not be held in the constituency after the seat fell vacant when Ms Mufti resigned to become the chief minister of the state following demise of her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2016.
However, bypoll in Srinagar constituency was held in 2016 after PDP MP Tariq Hameed Karra resigned in protest against party’s coalition with BJP.
Later, Farooq Abdullah of NC was elected. Even though there are 18 candidates seeking mandate from the constituency, the main contest is expected to be between Mufti, Mir and Masoodi.
CPI(M), which has not fielded any candidate, is supporting NC nominee from Anantnag constituency. Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference, which does not have much of a presence in south Kashmir, has fielded Chaudhry Zaffar Ali as its candidate.
BJP, which had managed to garner only 1.26 per cent of the votes polled in Lok Sabha constituency during 2014 general election, has fielded Sofi Yousuf, a MLC this time. Besides candidates from other smaller parties, there are 10 independent candidates in fray for the constituency.
The EC in a notification issued on Friday fixed the polling time, in all the polling stations, for the Anantnag parliamentary Constituency from 0700 hrs to 1600 hrs. The earlier timing notified by the Commission was between 0700 hrs to 1800 hrs.
Will ensure smooth conduct of polls: DGP
Srinagar, Apr 20: Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said that the forces will ensure the smooth conduct of Anantnag Lok Sabha elections, scheduled to commence from Wednesday in three phases.
The polling for Anantnag Lok Sabha polls will be held in three phases – April 23, April 29, and May 6.
The DGP said that police and other security agencies are fully prepared for peaceful and smooth conduct of elections. “Force are alert and have made all preparations for the smooth Anantnag Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
Singh further said that the forces will also ensure security of poll officials during the election days.
He said that the priority would be to hold violence-free elections and all possible measures will be taken for this. “Police force and the intelligence wing have been kept on alert to combat any threat.”
The DGP told KNS that all the arrangements are being made, so that the polling process is not affected and the people can exercise their voting rights without fear. “The security of polling personnel and polling booths will be taken care of. Special patrolling will be carried out in the sensitive and hyper-sensitive areas,” he said.
“I can assure from the point of the police and the sister security agencies that we are on the ground and we are set to ensure that there is a peaceful election in south Kashmir. Any attempt to vitiate the electoral process would not be allowed” the DGP maintained.
The DGP stressed on greater synergy among different agencies deployed to be for election duties, saying that the coordination among all stakeholders would help to prevail a conducive atmosphere for the people to exercise their franchise.
He said that Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) has a rich experience in conducting the electoral process and the force along with other sister agencies would leave no stone unturned to conduct the election in a congenial atmosphere in this Lok Sabha seat.
“I am sure elections will pass on successfully and peacefully. I wish my officers on the ground all the very best. Given the past experience of JK police, they have sailed through difficult times and I am sure that the major event (polls) in south Kashmir will be successful.”
The DGP stressed whatever support in shape of logistic and manpower is required will be pooled and placed at the disposal for the smooth conduct of polls.
The DGP further told KNS that stern action will be taken against the elements that foment trouble and at the same time contingency plans will be ready to tackle any eventuality.
Meanwhile sources said that the security agencies in south Kashmir were busy conducting vulnerability mapping of booths and identifying of critical polling stations based on the past incidents of violence.
BJP’s anti-Muslim posturing out in open: NC
Srinagar, Apr 20: Jammu and Kashmir National Conference on Saturday condemned the recent statement of a BJP functionary wherein he had asked voters to cast their ballot in favor of PM Modi if they want to “destroy Muslims”, saying that such horrible assertion is reflective of BJP’s aversion for Muslims.
In a statement issued from party headquarters Nawa-e-Subah, party’s provincial spokesperson Imran Nabi Dar while condemning the BJP statement said that what is alarming here is the fact that PM Modi, cabinet ministers and BJP functionaries haven’t censured the person for his hateful statement against Muslims.
“We are hearing this kind of intimidation in broad day light by a BJP functionary addressing a public gathering in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh. The person had sordidly vowed to destroy the breed of Muslims and not just that, he has said that the party will bring machines from China to shave Muslims and convert them to Hinduism. Why is PM mute on this issue? This does not behoove his political denomination.”
Imran said that having been failed to deliver on the promises made by it, BJP is again resorting to hate mongering and fanning of communal passions.
“Such distasteful communal election time rhetoric is tailored to fan communal passions and polarize the people in the run up to elections. The sheer naïve attitude of PM and other high rung leaders of BJP over this issue reveal that divisiveness and polarization is the social and the accepted policy within BJP. Every sane voice in India should come forward and dismiss this sort of campaign rhetoric. However this should act as an eye opener to the people of country while they make their choices for the kind of government they want to have for next five years. We have had enough of this. Our party too is spearheading the campaign against such divisive agenda of BJP and its cronies in our state with the active support of people.”