New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal today sought the response from the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir government and others on an environment activist’s plea seeking removal of unexploded and used shells from a firing range in the state and restore the area.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Defence Ministry, J&K government and its forest department while seeking their reply by March 1.
The Tribunal was hearing a plea filed by environment activist and J&K resident, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat, who sought directions to clear the Tosa Maidan meadow in Budgam district from the unexploded and used shells and restore the area.
The plea has stated that the state government had given Tosa Maidan on lease to Army for a firing range in 1964 for a period of 50 years, which expired in April, 2014.
Bhat submitted that several “exploded and unexploded” shells are lying in this area and the Ministry has not removed the waste after the lease got over, which posed a looming threat to life and was causing water pollution.
“The artillery Wing of Ministry of Defence posted in Jammu and Kashmir is using the Tosamaidan Meadow for last several years for the purpose of field firing and artillery practices…It is submitted that this activity by Ministry of Defence is not only damaging the environment but has also damage the habitat of wild animals.
“The used shells are cause of grave concern of polluting the area as during the rainy season it pollutes the water sources and the surrounding areas. Unexploded shells are a regular threat to the habitat of the area. The unexploded shells has cause death and injuries to the locals residing in the area,” Bhat said.
The plea, filed through advocates Ritwick Dutta and Rahul Choudhary, said after the expiry of lease of Tosa maidan, the state was now considering the Bajpathree meadow as the new firing range.
“Direct the Jammu & Kashmir government not to lease out the Bajpathree meadow for the purpose of field firing and artillery practices,” the plea said.
The Tosa Maidan meadow was used by the Army, the IAF and the CRPF as firing range for conducting weaponry training from 1964 to 2014, it added.