Locals up in arms against turning wetland into IIM

Locals up in arms against turning wetland into IIM
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Mashkoora Khan

SRINAGAR: Resentment against setting up an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) campus in Narkara is growing among the area’s residents as they believe it would create havoc here.
The locals Kashmir Reader talked to said the land on which the IIM would be set up is wetland, which acts as a buffer zone for floods and also hosts thousands of migratory birds every season.
Narkara’s Makdom (village head) Abdul Gani Dar said the centuries-old wetland saved the surrounding areas during the 2014 floods. “Now if the government will set up the IIM here, it will be disastrous for the area,” he said.
Several residents echoed his worries. Abdul Rehman, who owns land around the wetland, said they would like the government to study the “devastation” the college would bring to the locality.
“It (the wetland) used to be a site for hunting, but due to illegal construction, this land has shrunk. Now the government is taking even this small piece of land to establish an IIM here,” said Ghulam Ahmad of Narkara.
Environmental lawyer Nadeem Qadir, who has filed objections in the High Court against setting up an IIM in the wetland, said that the court has directed the revenue department to provide records about the nature of the land. He said the court wants to see whether the site is Khah-charai (state land) or Numbal.
Early this month, the JK Chief Secretary had also asked Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner to look into the land records. The move was made after the government came under sharp criticism for mulling to convert the wetland into an IIM.
Putting aside the local reservations, District commissioner Budgam Haroon Malik told Kashmir Reader that the government has not yet finalised Narkara as the site for IIM. “The government has asked Divisional commissioner to identify alternative site for IIM if Narkara is not suitable,” he said.

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