Dachigam wildlife faces disaster as govt issuing mining lease rights to cement companies

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‘Undervalue project reports get Wild Life clearance’

Srinagar: The wild life at Dachigam National Park is on the verge of disaster due to the wrong policies of authorities. The Jammu and Kashmir government that Wildlife department and other concerned departments were issuing mining lease rights in favour of various cement factories which has huge impact on the wild life at the Dachigam Park.

Sources in the government, on condition of anonymity, said, “at Nagendar Sat Pakhran and Bajnari, the authorities are trying to give clearance for mining lease in favour of some cement factories in violation of the norms. If the clearance is granted, it will be a disaster for the wildlife habitat in the vicinity as Nagendar Sat Pakhran and Bajnari are in close vicinity of Dachigam Park.”

Sources also revealed that the Wild Life department officers were issuing necessary permissions in favour of cement factory owners in violation of norms.

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“The officers charge huge amount of money from the cement factory owners by showing their units undervalue at the time of issuing no-objection-certificates,” they said.

According to the norms, any factory which has to be established in eco-sensitive zone has to pay five percent of the total project cost or as assessed by the assessing authority for the conservation of bio-diversity and environment management plan.

“However, at the time of the registration of the Cement factories, the owners in league with the Wild Life department officers intentionally produce undervalue project reports to get the clearance. This way the government is losing crores of rupees which should have been spent for the conservation of wild life,” they said.

Sources said in some cases even no money has been charged from the cement factory owners for granting Wild Life clearance. “There seems a close nexus between cement factory owners, pollution control board, forest department and wildlife department officers as rules are being flouted to benefit the factory owners at the cost of government exchequer,” they said.

The environmental management plans describe how any factory might impact on the natural environment and set out clear commitments from the owners taking the action on how those impacts will be avoided, minimized and managed so that they are environmentally acceptable.

A senior official of the Wild Life department wishing anonymity said among the existing six cement factories in Khrew and three in Khunmoh, most have upgraded their units without getting the necessary clearance from the concerned authorities.

“Mining, which is considered as ecological disaster, is being carried out close to Dachigam National Park. No money is being charged by the department for mining which clearly shows that the authorities are giving a free hand to the factory owners at the cost of wild life.”

Demanding a thorough probe by Vigilance Organisation in the matter, the official said, “at-least in future the government should not allow the existing system to continue. I hope the Advisor to the Governor will take strong note of this and not allow the department to issue clearance for any cement project which submits under value project reports.”

According to environmental science experts, hundreds of springs in the area have vanished in the recent years due to illegal activities of the factories. “The dust coming out of cement factories has not only affected Khrew woods but it has also reached Harwan. And, due to its affect, the wild animals are running away from Khrew,” they said.

If the right steps are not taken immediately, Dachigam Park may become a history in coming years.

Despite repeated attempts, Chief Wild Life Warden was not available for comment.


(With inputs from KNS)

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