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‘Wrong Govt policies detrimental to wildlife in Dachigam’

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, July 18: The wild life at Dachigam National Park is on the verge of disaster due to the wrong polices of authorities.

Sources said that Jammu and Kashmir government that Wild Life department and other concerned departments were issuing mining lease rights in favour of various cement factories which has huge impact on the wild life at the Dachigam Park. “At Nagendar Sat Pakhran and Bajnari, the authorities are trying to give clearance for mining lease in favour of some cement factories in violation of the norms. If the clearance is granted, it will be a disaster for the wild life habitat in the vicinity as Nagendar Sat Pakhran and Bajnari are in close vicinity of Dachigam Park,” they said.

Sources also revealed that the Wild Life department officers were issuing necessary permissions in favour of cement factory owners in violation of norms. “The officers charge huge amount of money from the cement factory owners by showing their units undervalue at the time of issuing no-objection-certificates,” they said.

 

According to the norms, any factory which has to be established in eco-sensitive zone has to pay five percent of the total project cost or as assessed by the assessing authority for the conservation of bio-diversity and environment management plan. “However, at the time of the registration of the Cement factories, the owners in league with the Wild Life department officers intentionally produce undervalue project reports to get the clearance. This way the government is losing crores of rupees which should have been spent for the conservation of wild life,” they said.

Sources said in some cases even no money has been charged from the cement factory owners for granting Wild Life clearance. “There seems a close nexus between cement factory owners, pollution control board, forest department and wildlife department officers as rules are being flouted to benefit the factory owners at the cost of government exchequer,” they said.

The environmental management plans describe how any factory might impact on the natural environment and set out clear commitments from the owners taking the action on how those impacts will be avoided, minimized and managed so that they are environmentally acceptable.

A senior official of the Wild Life department wishing anonymity said among the existing six cement factories in Khrew and three in Khunmoh, most have upgraded their units without getting the necessary clearance from the concerned authorities. “Mining, which is considered as ecological disaster, is being carried out close to Dachigam National Park. No money is being charged by the department for mining which clearly shows that the authorities are giving a free hand to the factory owners at the cost of wild life,” he said.

Demanding a thorough probe by Vigilance Organisation in the matter, the official said, “Atleast in future the government should not allow the existing system to continue. I hope the Advisor to the Governor will take strong note of this and not allow the department to issue clearance for any cement project which submits under value project reports.”

According to environmental science experts, hundreds of springs in the area have vanished in the recent years due to illegal activities of the factories. “The dust coming out of cement factories has not only affected Khrew woods but it has also reached Harwan. And, due to its affect, the wild animals are running away from Khrew,” they said.

If the right steps are not taken immediately, Dachigam Park may become a history in coming years, they warned.

Despite repeated attempts, Chief Wild Life Warden was not available for comment.


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Kashmir

Action plan for conservation, development of medicinal plant sector in JK discussed

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Srinagar, May 23: Advisors to Governor, K Vijay Kumar and K Skandan today jointly chaired a meeting to discuss the potential of medicinal Plants sector in the state, action plan for conservation, development and sustainable management of Medicinal Plants and structural support required for development of the State Medicinal Plant Board.

The meeting also discussed the achievements already registered by SKUAST-Kashmir and other concerned agencies in the Medicinal plant sector.

Vice Chancellor SKUAST-K Prof Nazeer Ahmad, PCCF J&K Suresh Chugh, Chairman SPCB Ravi Kesar, CCF T Rabi Kumar, Regional Director RCFC Dr Sheikh Bilal, experts from SKUAST-K and other concerned officers attended the meeting.

 

VC SKUAST-K along with his team of experts gave a detailed presentation regarding work done already in the field of medicinal plants by the University and the activities that are being carried out to explore the potential of medicinal plants and their cultivation for demonstration purpose at present. Work done at Faculty of Forests and at Division of plant biotechnology of SKUAST-K was alsodiscussed in the meeting.

Threadbare discussions were held on the role of both the Agricultural Universities of the state in rendering their support to the State Medicinal Plant Board, research work being carried out by them to know more about the medicinal plants that are being available in the state and its strategy to cultivate these plants with a commercial point of view.It was informed that around 571 different kinds of medicinal plants are available in the state out of which some are high end plants having high commercial and medicinal value.

Role of Forest department in this sector was also reviewed and it was decided that the department would be playing a positive role in assisting the State Medicinal Plant Board in its activities and also providing every kind of support to get maximum benefits from the medicinal plant sector in the state.

While discussing the action plan, it was stressed that for making the medicinal plant sector of the state sustainable, State Medicinal Plant Policy needs to be framed. The Advisors asked SMPB to study the policies of other states and prepare a draft by taking out best practices from them also in consonance with the National Medicinal Plant Policy.

It was also decided that a database having details of the medicinal plants that are available in the state must be created along with the value assessment of the products to get its commercial value. Further, it was told that the cultivation of high end (commercially viable) plants and research oriented work would be taken care of by the Agricultural Universities of the state and Forest department also to take up cultivation of plants at their nurseries and other identified places.

Stress was also laid on re-generation of the species which are rare so that the fear of extinction of such plants can be taken care of.

With regard to  the awareness programme, the Advisors asked VC SKUAST-K to organize a Seminar/Workshop on the topic soon involving experts from other states, faculty/students from Agricultural Universities, Forest Officers, Forestry Scholars/Graduates and other stakeholders so that participants can share their expertise on the subject with others and make value addition to their existing knowledge.

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Dearth of NEET SS centres in Kashmir: Candidates in fix, urge Guv to intervene

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, May 23: Hundreds of doctors appearing in the upcoming National Eligibility cum Entrance Test Super Speciality (NEET SS) examinations from Kashmir are in a fix as the dearth of examination centres in the valley will force them to choose a centre outside the region or state.

NEET SS 2019 is a Super Speciality national-level exam being conducted by National Board of Examinations to offer admission in DM/MCh courses.

The exam is scheduled on 28 June in online mode and the registration has already started from 8 May.

 

The candidates from Kashmir, however, are unhappy by the “lackadaisical attitude” of the authorities in failing to get sufficient number of examination centres allotted to the valley. 

A doctor who is appearing in the exam said that last year almost 90 percent of the candidates were accommodated in examination centres in Kashmir but this time hardly 15 percent have been allotted valley-based centres.

“They have allotted only one centre for DM/MCh candidates here. Not more than 15 percent have got the examination centre in the valley. Majority of the candidates will have to travel outside the valley to sit in the exams,” the doctor said wishing not to be quoted by name.

He added that as most of these candidates are working in the various hospitals of the valley, they will have to take at least three days’ leave to travel out of Kashmir and sit in the exams.

“As a result, the hospitals will face a deficiency of staff,” he said.

The doctor appealed the J&K Governor to take up the issue with the NEET SS organisers.

Last week, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) too had taken note of this concern and had urged Governor Satya Pal Malik to take up the matter with the appropriate authorities.

“It is very unfortunate that every time we are made to beg to authorities to get sufficient number of examination centres to Kashmir so that our candidates are not made to suffer but it seems that our demands are falling to deaf ears,” Dr Suhail Naik, president DAK had said in a statement.

Atul Dulloo, Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education told The Kashmir Monitor that the doctors “should have informed the authorities about it when they were applying for the courses.”

“Now, they are coming up at the eleventh hour. We will still raise the issue with the concerned authorities and see what can be done,” he said.

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City areas waterlogged, again; SMC, works dept in slumber

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, May 23: Once again a short-spell of rain submerged several city roads, exposing the faulty drainage system in Srinagar.

As predicted by the local meteorological department, the majority of the plains in Kashmir, Thursday witnessed a heavy downpour.

Soon, roads in Srinagar including the city-centre Lal Chowk and its adjoining areas were clogged with rainwater as the drainage system gave up within an hour or so of the rainfall.

 

Neither Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) nor Public Works Department has, in recent years, been able to resolve the issue which, time and again causes inconvenience to commuters and the business community.

Apart from Lal Chowk and its surrounding areas, those that witnessed water-logging included Karanagar, Nawabazar, Jahangir Chowk, Hari Singh High Street, Gogji Bagh, Bemina, Mehjoor Nagar, Residency Road, Hazuri Bagh, Rambagh, Shalteng, and Batamaloo.

Pedestrians were seen saving their clothes from water splashed on them whenever any vehicles drove through the flooded roads.

Abdul Ahad, a pedestrian while walking near Hari Singh High Street was so annoyed that he started abusing the authorities for failing to permanently resolve the public issue.

Bikers were seen holding up their legs while driving through several inches of water on the intersection between Residency Road and MA Road here.

Rains had also made driving dangerous as the depth of water-filled potholes was impossible to predict for the motorists.

The overall public movement in the city was hindered to a large extent.

No employee of SMC or the Works Department was seen on the field.

Even after repeated attempts to contact them, no officer from SMC or Works Department was available for their comments.

In February, the then Executive Engineer Drainage, SMC, Muzaffar Kakroo had claimed to complete 80% of drainage infrastructure.

He had even said that “complete infrastructure of drainage system across Srinagar along with the water disposal infrastructure will be completed in the month of May-August 2019.”

Seeing the state of drainage on Thursday, it was safe to say that the same had not been achieved.

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