The Kashmir Center for Social and Development Studies (KSCDS), a civil society group, has decided to take legal recourse on the recent Supreme Court Judgement over construction of tracks and other infrastructure in the environmentally fragile area.
At the end of a day long conference on the issue, the group on Friday resolved to engage and consult environmental lawyers in order to seek legal recourse on the SC judgment.
The KSCDS has urged upon all the stakeholders, institutions, environment groups and concerned people in India and across globe to step in and raise their voice in defense of ecology, environment and biodiversity of the fragile Himalayan region of Shri Amarnathji area in Kashmir that is likely to get vandalized by construction of roads and other infrastructure.
In a daylong Round Table Conference presided over by Chairperson KCSDS Prof. Hameedah Nayeem, the participants resolved to mobilize all concerned people across India and outside against any permanent constructions in the area which could result in the vandalization of this priceless pristine treasure on earth on the pretext of making yatra safe.
According to a press statement issued here, the conference noted with deep regret and sense of anguish the observations and directions issued by Hon’ble Supreme Court in relation to Amarnath Yatra and resolved to call a session of social and environmental activists besides the representatives of all political parties to deliberate on all aspects of Shri Amarnath yatra and protection of fragile environment. In this regard KCSDS has undertaken to organize a seminar in the month of March-April and invite concerned activists and politicians from different parts of India and J&K.
The participants strongly condemned the attempts aimed at communalizing this issue by vested interests by spreading misinformation and said that civil society campaign is purely for environmental protection, the statement added.
The issue was thread bare deliberated upon by a galaxy of civil society members that included prominent academicians, medicos, business leaders, lawyers, journalists, social activists and others.
The members observed with a sense of disenchantment that instead of addressing the issue of deaths directly and trying to find the cause of deaths , the Hon’ble court has skirted the critical issues by giving orders for widening of the passage. According to available media reports the deaths were purely because of health reasons, treacherous weather conditions and accidents.
The participants observed with dismay that whereas maximum space in the judgment has been provided to address and ameliorate the conditions that caused minimum number of deaths, the crucial issue of ecology and protection of wild life has been intriguingly ignored.
“We are intrigued that the Hon’ble court has neither taken any cognizance of, let alone pass any directions with regard to preservation and protection of the fragile ecology , biodiversity and environment of the area nor has it made any observations about protection of water bodies, glaciers and protection of wild life” the members said.
“Fixing pre-cast cement tiles on the passage will break in temperatures ranging from –o.5 to -35.o.The broken pieces scattered here and there , will further vandalize the area as these will finally find their way in water streams thereby blocking their free flow” the members observed in the conference.
The members further observed that the unregulated rush of pilgrims, long duration of pilgrimage and the limited carrying capacity of the highly fragile region under question have not found space in the Hon’ble Court’s judgment.
The members expressed doubts on whether the Hon’ble Supreme Court has been comprehensively briefed by SASB, SHPC and State government about the vital issues involved in the suo motu cognizance of the deaths of yatris that occurred in the Amarnath Yatra. Turning down any communal agenda, the participants conveyed in one voice that they are concerned about the welfare of yatris as always and would offer the voluntary services in mitigating their problems, if any, in making the annual yatra a hassle-free exercise.
“However, as conscious civil society members they are duty-bound to plead for preservation and protection of environment in total conformity with the article 21 of the constitution. The members reminded the state and union governments besides SASB of their constitutional obligation to protect the environment and desist from any attempt that goes in violation of Article 21 of Indian constitution read with the Environmental (protection) Act of 1986 and the J&K Wild life (protection )Act of 1978”, the statement read
A cross section of civil society members participated in the deliberations of the conference.