Srinagar: The government it seems is bitten by the bug of taking mindless decisions. One such decision of the government is the establishment of a Zoo in Jammu. The ‘Jambu’ Zoo as the place will be known as would be developed over an area of 229.50 hectares at an estimated cost of Rs. 120 crore having Safari Park, Butterfly garden, insect park, Sambar, Hog, spotted deer, Blue bull, black buck, Goat wild, Bear Himalayan black, Bear Sloth and Eagle tawny enclosures.
The place would also have an artificial lake, artificial waterfall, overhead water tank, underground water tank, public amenities including canteen reception centre and a massive network of roads. The Zoo would have 70-foot entry gate on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, making it a prime attraction for the tourists.
The government’s seriousness on the project can be gauged by the fact that the state’s forest Minister has directed the Wildlife department to gear up men and machinery to complete the work of the Jambu Zoo (Shivalik Biological Park) within no time.
Though the officials claim that the Zoo will help in preservation and protection of forest land and will generate employment besides, help to enhance the socio-economic condition of the locals.
The government’s decisions need some clarifications because ultimately it will be the tax payer’s money that will go into the making and commissioning besides the upkeep of the Zoo. Therefore, the authorities owe an explanation to the people of the state.
The state government needs to answer some questions about the previous projects and wild life parks. What is the status of these parks and what has the government contributed to make them a liability or an asset for the state.
Here we will raise the questions about Dachigam national park. The park seems to be deteriorated to the extent that the visitors don’t find any difference between a municipality park and the Dachigam Park.
Ironically, the place has been turned into nothing more than an isolated piece of forest land and those responsible for the mess are the government departments itself.
Those responsible for its destruction are the government agencies like Sheep Breeding Farm, Fisheries Farm, Protocol Rest House and the Wildlife Department itself. The entire management of Dachigam, which consists of dozens of employees, instead of managing its entire area of about 150 sq. kms, has been concentrating on 3-kms road stretch of the park from Harwan Bus Stand to Draphama VIP Lodge – the stretch generally used by VIPs. The rest of the area has virtually been handed over by the Wildlife Department to herders, and grazers.
The plight is as such that many hundreds of acres of land has been encroached upon and as per the residents living in its vicinity the Park has become famous for not housing any wild beings in the protected areas.
The government should ponder over the plight of the already established projects and rather than creating another example of its failures it should better try to restore the already existing projects. And keeping Dachigam Park on the priority will be a much better option than to waste money and efforts elsewhere.