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‘Wildlife Board gives nod to Gulmarg defense project’

Monitor News Desk

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Srinagar: The National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) has given its nod for an air defence and weaponry project in Kashmir in which 1.18 hectares of Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary land will be used, The Indian Express reported on Wednesday.

The project, as per the report, will also cover 12.35 hectares of forest land outside Gulmarg Sanctuary.

The proposal, recommended by the then State Chief Wildlife Warden with 17 riders/conditions, was cleared at a July 18 meeting of the standing committee of NBWL, it said. The meeting was chaired by Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar

 

The radar system in the project is aimed at keeping an eye on aerial movements inside Pakistan-administered Kashmir, and on attempts to cross the Line of Control.

Express reported that the defence forces lack such monitoring capability in this area. The proposal to construct this radar facility has been a long-pending request from the armed forces that finally started moving last year, the report added.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Kumar Gupta was quoted saying in the report that the proposal will be submitted for forest clearance once the wildlife clearance is formally received from NBWL. He added that environment clearance is not needed for all projects, and whether such clearance would be required for the project in question would be known after the forest clearance process.

The proposed project in J&K includes installation of air defence and weaponry along with helipad construction. “Only radar system would be set up in the sanctuary area and all other basic infrastructure will be outside the wildlife area,” Gupta said.

“NBWL clears proposals of national interest with conditions,” said Gupta. “There are things which are in public interest, such as roads that pass through sanctuaries, and NBWL takes a call on such things.”

According to the website of the J&K Wildlife Protection Department, “To ensure survival of highly endangered Musk Deer (Moschus Crysogater), Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary was upgraded from Man and Biosphere Reserve in the year 1987. The area is one of the best world-renowned tourist destinations for its famous meadows, rocky cliffs, dense birch forests and a home for bird watchers.” The website says the sanctuary has a rich flora and fauna bio-diversity with variegated species like musk deer, common leopard, barking deer, Asiatic black bear, Himalayan black bear, Indian wolf, snow cock, chakoor.

In the proposal to the NWBL, the then State Chief Wildlife Warden recommended that the proprietary and legal status of the protected area shall remain unchanged, NPV (Net Present Value) shall be charged in accordance with Supreme Court orders, the user agency shall pay 5 per cent of the estimated cost of the project to the J&K Wildlife Protection Department for conservation and preservation of wildlife and habitat, among other conditions.

The standing committee decided to recommend the proposal subject to the condition that “the project proponent will comply with all the conditions imposed by the State Chief Wildlife Warden”.

It also directed that “a wildlife conservation plan should be prepared by the Chief Wildlife Warden and implemented in cooperation with Army authorities to mitigate the impact of the project, the annual compliance certificate on the stipulated conditions should be submitted by the project proponent to the State Chief Wildlife Warden and an annual compliance certificate shall be submitted by the State Chief Wildlife Warden to Government of India.


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Lead Stories

UN chief could discuss Kashmir issue at UNGA: UN spokesman

Press Trust of India

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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is likely to use the opportunity of discussions during the high-level UN General Assembly session that begins here next week to raise the Kashmir issue, the UN chief’s spokesperson has said.

Spokesman for the Secretary-General Stephane Dujarric during the daily press briefing here on Thursday said that the UN chief has underscored the need for dialogue as the only way to resolve the issue and, “as part of the solution for the current crisis in Kashmir, to make sure that human rights aspects are very much dealt with, as well.”

“…On Kashmir, the Secretary General… has said previously, he remains engaged. I think he will also use the opportunity of discussions during the General Assembly to raise it,” Dujarric said, responding to a question on the situation in Kashmir.

On Wednesday, Guterres emphasised that “dialogue” between India and Pakistan is an “absolute essential element” for reaching a solution on the Kashmir issue, and said his good offices are available should both sides ask for it and called for full respect of human rights.

“Well, our capacity is related to good offices, and good offices can only be implemented when the parties accept it. And, on the other hand, it relates to advocacy, and the advocacy was expressed and will be maintained,” Guterres said during his press conference ahead of the UN General Assembly session.

Guterres was asked by a Pakistani journalist about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and what will he do to bring a solution to the Kashmir issue.

“I go on with a clear opinion that human rights must be fully respected in the territory, and I go on with the clear opinion that dialogue between India and Pakistan is an absolutely essential element for the solution of the problem,” he said.

India has always maintained that Jammu and Kashmir is its integral part and ruled out any third party mediation, including either from the UN or the US, saying it is a bilateral issue with Pakistan.

The UN Secretary General has also repeatedly asserted that his good offices are available only if both sides ask for it.

Tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5. Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Pakistan has been trying to internationalise the Kashmir issue but India has asserted that the abrogation of Article 370 was its “internal matter”.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has vowed to raise the Kashmir issue at the UN General Assembly (UNGA) session in New York on September 27. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also scheduled to speak on the same day.

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Amid Kashmir tensions, India will participate at SAARC meeting in New York

Press Trust of India

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NEW DELHI: Amid heightened Indo-Pak tensions, India will participate at the SAARC foreign ministers meeting scheduled to be held on September 26 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, officials said on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan will be present in the US next week and will hold bilateral and multilateral meetings.

Officials said India will participate in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation foreign ministers meeting that is scheduled for September 26.

The meeting on the sidelines of the UNGA could bring Jaishankar and his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi face to face for the first time after the abrogation of Article 370 provisions.

Asked about a possible meeting with his Pakistani counterpart as well as the future of the SAARC regional grouping, Jaishankar, at a press conference earlier this week, had said, “if and when I meet Pakistani Foreign Minister, we will see at that time what happens”.

The SAARC is about regional cooperation and that refers to trade, MFN, connectivity etc.

, he had said, adding that now every member knows which country is promoting SAARC and which one is impeding it.

Last year, then External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had attended the SAARC Foreign Ministers meeting, usually held on the sidelines of the UNGA.

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Plea alleges detention of children in Kashmir, SC seeks report

Agencies

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The Supreme Court on Friday sought a report from Jammu and Kashmir High Court on the alleged detention of children in Kashmir during curbs following the scrapping of Article 370 in the state on August 5.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing child right activists Inakshi Ganguly and Shanta Sinha who have alleged detention of children in Kashmir, had on September 16 told the apex court that people in the Valley are not able to approach the high court there.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi said it would entertain the petition regarding alleged detention of children in Kashmir as the plea has raised “substantial issues” regarding minors. The top court directed the Juvenile Justice Committee of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to file a report before it within a week on the issue.

The Supreme Court also said it had received a report from the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court and claims that people are unable to access the court there are not supported.

“We have received the report from the chief justice (of Jammu and Kashmir High Court) which does not support your statement,” the bench also comprising justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer told the counsel appearing for the petitioners.

The Supreme Court also sought response from the Jammu and Kashmir administration on a plea challenging detention of five persons in Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.

The bench asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for the Jammu and Kashmir administration, to file his response.

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