Projects being planned with no one in government listening
SHOPIAN: Attempts are being made to divert more land of Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary for the building of sheds, hotels and tourism-related construction in Pir ki Gali, Zaznad, Sathran, Dobijan and Sukh Sarai.
Reliable sources in the district administration and the Wildlife Department told Kashmir Reader that attempts are being made to divert the Hirpora sanctuary land for construction of passenger sheds, workshops and other structures to boost tourism and alternate highway which is Mughal Road.
The Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary has earlier seen huge destruction. Over a dozen species within it are on the brink of extinction, and many others are threatened. “Earlier, the government constructed Mughal Road, power lines which are against the guidelines of the Supreme Court of India as well against the wildlife Acts. If new construction were raised there, it would be a catastrophic for this sanctuary,” an environmental expert said.
Besides the sanctuary, Hirpora is a major source of water for hundreds of villages for both irrigation and drinking water purposes, but the Rambiara rivulet which provides it is already heavily polluted and giving a tough time to the people living in Shopian district and neighbouring districts like Pulwama.
A Wildlife Department official said, wishing not to be named, that the government, instead of paving a way to save the sanctuary and its water resources, is hell-bent on destroying it. “Isn’t there another area where government can make constructions? But no, they want only the sanctuary part to get destroyed,” he said adding that even people in other parts of the world know there are around a dozen animals about to vanish from Hirpora.
A wildlife researcher said that if it is true that the government has plans to make construction in the sanctuary, then it will be destructive. “The areas like Dobijan and Pir Gali are already destroyed as they are exposed to pollution and forces establishments,” he said adding that if areas like Zaznad were brought under construction, it would be disastrous for the sanctuary as many times even endangered species were spotted in these areas.
Public Health Engineering Department officials from Shopian told Kashmir Reader that they are already under heat from the public who face drinking water problems due to the constriction of Mughal Road and power lines in the forest areas of Hirpora.
Sources said that on Wednesday a top government team, including seniors in the district administration, visited the area and took stock of sites which according to them are meant for construction.
A senior wildlife official also confirmed that the government has clear plans to make constrictions in the Hirpora sanctuary. He however refused to comment on what are the particular constructions which the government has in its plans. “Probably passenger sheds, toilets and small hotels are in consideration, as far as my knowledge goes,” he said.
The Hirpora Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 341 square kilometres in the region and is a home for hundreds of animals, birds and medicinal herbs. There are half a dozen alpine lakes here, but their area is shrinking with the passage of time, due to constructions and other abuses.
It is pertinent to mention here that last year, the Shopian Wildlife Division recorded over 350 cases of man in conflict with the wild, with many injuries and casualties recorded and over a dozen wild animals caught in human habitations.