The forest department has recommended that Tosa Maidan firing range which has so far reportedly claimed over 75 people besides damaging thousands of green trees be handed over to Pehjan wild life department as an Eco-Sensitive Zone.
According to an official letter bearing number 1254/SKNG dated March 3, 2014, the divisional forest officer Pir Panjal Forest Range has been prayed for necessary action.
Pertinently, the Pehjan wildlife sanctuary is located in between Tosa Maidan firing range and Gulmarg. The field firing range exists within three kilometers of radius from the Pehjan wild life sanctuary, a forest department official told KNS.
“The Tosa Maidan field firing range has damaged huge number of trees in forest compartment of S6, S7, S8, S9, S10, S21, S22, S23 and S24 of Sukhnag range. Further the field firing range has also damaged the human life in Kothas temporarily used by nomads at Tosa Maidan,” reads an inspection report filed by Range Officer Sukhnag to the higher ups in forest department.
“The inspection is based on fact that the impact of shelling of Tosa Miadan and adjacent forests have badly affected the green trees and thousands of green trees have died in Sukhnag range. Besides this the shelling has caused human loss in the area….,” reads the report submitted by a forest officer in Sukhnag range.
Top sources in the forest department said that the proposal of handing over the Tosa Maidan firing range to the wild life department has not been submitted to the government as the officer at the helm of affairs in the department have been conveyed not to pursue this proposal anymore.
“Otherwise every proposal regarding transfer of forest land for other than forest purposes is tabled before the forest advisory committee before a sanction is approved by the government. The proposal to handover the Tosa Maidan Firing range to wildlife department has not even been allowed to be submitted to the middle rank officer of the department,” top sources in the forest department revealed.
Significantly, the forest proposal echoes the observations made in a report submitted by the Sheep Husbandry department in March this year. The Sheep husbandry department had objected to the extension of lease over Tosa Maidan firing range to army arguing that artillery shelling has hit rearing of sheep in this meadow.
According to locals of Tosa Maidan, not only human lives, green trees but the sheep population in Budgam district reared in Tosa Maidan meadow is being affected by the artillery shelling the area. Since Tosa Maidan firing range lease stands expired on April 18, the government appointed committee headed by the chief secretary for reviewing the lease is yet to arrive at a decision.