Kashmir Center for Social and Development Studies has urged upon stakeholders, institutions, environment groups and concerned people across the 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 which they claimed is likely to get vandalized by construction of roads and other infrastructure.
According to KNS in a daylong Round Table Conference presided over by Chairperson KCSDS Prof Hameedah Nayeem, the participants resolved to mobilize all stakeholders and concerned people across India and outside through letters and social media besides organizing signature campaign in all educational institutions of Kashmir against any permanent constructions in the area in order to stop vandalization of this priceless pristine treasure on earth on the pretext of saving lives.
The conference noted with deep regret and sense of anguish the observations and directions issued by 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 April and invite concerned activists and politicians from within and outside Kashmir valley.
The conference also resolved to engage and consult environmental lawyers in order to seek legal recourse to the SC directions.
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 issue was threadbare deliberated upon by civil society members that included prominent academicians, medicos, business leaders, lawyers, journalists, social activists and others.
The participants observed with pain 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 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 wildlife,” the members said.
“Fixing pre-cast cement tiles on the passage will break in temperatures ranging from –0.5 to -35.0.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 conveyed doubts on whether the SC has been comprehensively briefed by SASB, SHPC and State government about the vital issues involved in the suo motu cognizance of the deaths that occurred in the Amarnath Yatra.
Turning down any communal agenda the participants conveyed in one voice that they were concerned about the welfare of yatris and would offer the voluntary services of the civil society in mitigating their problems, if any, in making the annual yatra a hassle-free exercise.
However, the members said that as conscious civil society members they were duty-bound to plead for preservation and protection of environment in total conformity to 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.