In a clear violation of the wildlife protection act, the public works department with the support of senior forest officials is illegally carrying out construction work on a road in a wildlife sanctuary at Pahalgam.
Locals allege that the construction of the road was put on hold after locals and environmentalists raised an alarm last year however, the officials of the Public Works Department have once again started construction activity in the area.
“Due to continues resistance from locals and environmentalists, the authorities failed to construct the same road in Overa-Aru wildlife sanctuary. However, this time they ignored the pleas of the locals as well as environmentalists and started construction work yet again,” Abdul Hamid, a local said.
As per locals authorities shifted machinery to Mamal area of the sanctuary to macadamize the road on Tuesday, however, after doing patchwork they left the construction work midway as locals tried to raise objections.
Importantly, several senior officers of concerned departments are expressing ignorance while as the middle rung officials say that they are being pressurized by seniors.
Meanwhile, an environmental group, Centre for Environmental Law (CEL), has written to Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, and asked him to stop the work immediately.
The environmental activists according to CEL, are planning to approach the Supreme Court of India to protect the fragile ecosystem in Pahalgam.
“The road is being constructed to benefit a few hoteliers. The road length is mere 1.5 KM but constructing it is a sheer violation of the wildlife protection act, 1978,” said an activist associated with CEL.
Pertinently, the Overa-Aru wildlife sanctuary is spread across 500 Sq. Km with mountains peaking upto 54000 m. The sanctuary is home to hundreds of rare and endangered species.
When contacted, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Wild Life Warden South Suhail Ahmad, said that R&B department made an attempt to construct a road in Overa-Aru wildlife sanctuary.
“However, we visited to the spot and stopped the work immediately. We will not allow anybody to take up any activity that violates the law,” he added.