Kashmir’s first forest training school in shambles, authorities unmoved

Owais Farooqi

Bandipora: A century-old forest training institute in Bandipora is in shambles as the authorities continue to neglect this heritage site.
Established under the guidance of a British forest officer, W H Lovegrove, in the year 1911, the Kashmir Forest Training School (KTFS) in Chiternar area of the district lies in ruins.
Believed to the first forest training school, the institute has produced manyforest experts, environmentalists and conservationists –both locals as well as non-locals.
authorities unmovedThe 105-year-old monument was occupied by the army for almost two decades and was vacated only in 2011 but so far the administration has made no effort to restore or renovate the building. Not only the building, many structures, belonging to the Forest department in the close vicinity of the Institute, too are in shambles.
Apart from the building, the existing infrastructure at the training school is far too less.
The trainees say that school houses a museum, a library, two hostel buildings, an administrative block and the examination hall. “The paucity of space is affecting our training,” a trainee said. The locals said that the “ruins” now serve as safe haven for the gamblers and drug addicts.
“Army vacated the land and buildings five years ago but since then the government has paid no attention to renovate these building,” the locals said. Officials serving in the Chiternar zone said that the area attracted many foreign tourists in the past. “Many foreigners came to see the training school in the past but now no one visits here,” an official of the Forest department said.
The Forest department authorities blamed the district administration for not showing interest in renovation of these buildings.
“The school authorities have to take care of maintenance work,” divisional forest officer, Munshi Iqbal, said.
He admitted that many buildings belonging to the department in the area as well as the training school building are in a dilapidated condition.
“We informed the government many times regarding the issue,” he added.