Petitioner pleads for protection of endangered species; says construction agency carrying out illegal blasting
SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court directed the government to file a compliance report regarding Hirpora wildlife sanctuary in district Shopain within a week.
The division bench, comprising Justice Ramalingum Sudhakar and Justice M K Hanjura, issued the orders after it was informed that the sanctuary has suffered huge loss due to the 4000 KV D/C transmission line.
Advocate Bakhat Parvaiz pleaded that the power project has immensely affected the fauna and flora of the area. “The Hirpora Santuary is a fragile ecosystem and damaging it under the name of development will cause greater harm to it,” he pleaded before the court.
The Indian Company, Sterlite Power, and its contractors, Tata Projects, have been assigned the project of laying 400KV D/C Sambha- Amargah line, which is supposed to provide power supply in Akhnoor, Rajouri, Poonch and Shopian.
The company was supposed to lay the power line and erect towers in the wildlife sanctuary on the condition that the work should be done manually so as to avoid damaging flora and fauna of the area.
During the 2016 uprisings, the company took advantage and violated the orders of Supreme Court. The company has used heavy machines to carry out illegal blasting in the sanctuary. The illegal blasting has destroyed the property in the surrounding areas.
The Company had to pay a penalty of 2.47 crores on the estimation done by a committee constituted by government, but has not paid any fine and is “continuing blasting and has erected towers with the help of heavy machines.”
Advoacte Parvaiz said, according to survey conducted by Wildlife Trust of India, there is 50 percent decline in the population of endangered Pir Panjal Markhor from 70 in 2003-2004 to 35 in 2013-2014.
“The 341 sq km (sanctuary) which is already under stress with the construction of Mughal Road has led to severe decline in the population of Markhor,” he said.
Advocate Parvaiz argued that for laying a transmission tower in plain areas, the total cost is around 2 lakhs but at the same time raising a tower at a slope reaches up to 20 lakhs. If the construction is done manually, then it will cost several lakhs of money.
The petition was filed by a group of lawyers – advocate Bakhat Parvaiz, advocate Sameer-ul-hamid Dar, advocate Khursheed Ahmed Dar, advocate Rayees Ali and advocate Junaid Rashid.
In the petition, they plead that the preservation of animal species including the Himalayan Brown Bear, Himalayan Black Bear, Musk Deer, Leopard, Tibetan Wolf, Himalayan Palm Civet and around 50 individuals of the critically endangered Pir Panjal Markhor, besides 130 bird species, are found in the sanctuary.
“Government should start investigation and should take stern actions against the contractors engaged in laying 400KV D/C Transmission Line through the sanctuary, file status report regarding the damage done to the species,” reads the petition.
As per the previous directions, a status report filed by State of Jammu and Kashmir through Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Power development Department, Development Commissioner (Power) J&K and Chief Engineer, Systems and Operations, Kashmir have submitted before court that “other than placing indents for land, we are in no way associated or involved with the construction of the project. It is the union of the India under whose supervision the construction of the project is being carried out.”