KL NEWS NETWORK
To articulate the anger, anguish and concern and to strongly resist Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led state coalition government proposed move to allocate Bajpathri as Field Firing Range to Army, Kashmir based civil society group – Kashmir Civil Society for Developmental Studies (KCSDS) held a Round Table Conference (RTC) of environmental experts, civil society organisations, rights activists, lawyers, doctors, mountaineers, student representatives including ‘Yousmarg Bacho Committee on December the 26th, 2015.
A KCSDS statement issued Sunday evening said that the theme of the RTC was: Bajpathri: a Disaster in the Making.
“After a daylong brainstorming session and deliberations on the issue by the participants including Er Mushtaq, Asim and Jehangir from Save Yusmarg Movement, Dr Allaqaband, Dr Farooq Kaloo, mountaineers Rouf Trambo and Mohd Yousuf, Er Gh Rasool, Bar Secretary Bashir Siddiqui, Adv G N Shaheen, US based doctor Maneja Yaqoob, Quratul Ain, Zareef Ahmad Zareef, Skakeel Qalandar, Dr Javid Iqbal, Ab Majid Zargar, Anwar Ashai, G M Zahid and Hameedah Nayeem, it was unanimously resolved that:
(1) 11 out of a total of 51 field firing ranges in India being located in J&K State is not only unacceptable but highly deplorable as it impacts fragile environment, biodiversity, water bodies, flora and fauna, livestock and on top of all, human lives in myriad ways.
(2) Continuing the existing ranges and adding one more to these is going to adversely affect the ‘Carbon Positive’ state.
(3) Govt must roll back existing firing ranges in eco fragile environs and desist from allocating new ones in Bajpathri or any other mountainous range.
(4) According to local reports, at least twenty four water supply schemes are bound to get affected by arsenal waste leading to water borne diseases and chances of depleted uranium affecting not only present but future generations should Bajpathri get allotted as firing range. Hence any such move will be fiercely resisted by all sections of society by launching a mass movement.
(5) Because of its multi-sectoral adverse impact, any effort to allocate eco-fragile mountainous ranges to armed forces for testing their battle readiness will not be allowed at all by the citizens of Kashmir.
(6) Allotting mountainous areas as firing ranges also violates the ‘Paris Protocol’ on environment to which India is a signatory.
(7) Using mountainous areas as firing ranges is in contravention to the United Nations expressed concern for mountains by naming the current year-2015 as ‘Year of Mountainous Products’ water and energy being mountainous products of high value besides food products.
(8) UNMOGIP should stick to its mandate of overseeing the military movement and ensure that it does not adversely affect the local people.
– Yusmarg is an adventure destination and round-the-year hill station situated in the west of J&K’s Budgam district, some 47 km away from summer capital Srinagar and 18 km from the historic town of Chrar-i-Sharief. Bajipathri is part of Yusmarg, located less than 1 km aerially and three to four kilometers on foot via vertical and horizontal pedestrian paths at an elevation of 2396 meters.
– Yusmarg has dozens of meadows in upper reaches including Goore Dera, (½ km from Yusmarg), Tirkhi Bahak (1 km), Tsurebur, (1.50 km), Berandab, (2 km) Bajipathri (3.50 km), Tsurekhal (4.50 km), Palenad (5.5 km), Hamekhal (6 km), Dragetolan (5.00 km) Liddermad (6 km), Reshineur (7 km), Shidak (8 km), Anipout (12 km), Gaagarrayil (6 km), Daanyur (10 km), Tru’sour (18 km), Bargah (6 km), Thambri (9 km), Doabjan (8 km), etc.
– These meadows are adjacent to each other, hosting at the peak of summer activity thousands of livestock and human trafﬁc from districts of Budgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Bakarwaals of Poonch and Rajouri. According to the estimates prepared by Save Yusmarg Movement, about 1.5 lakh livestock animals including sheep, horses and buffaloes are raised here. Turning it into a firing range would mean extinction of this livestock that we badly need in Kashmir to reduce our import of livestock from outside the state and it would meaning end of the livelihood of 6000 persons engaged in this trade from three districts.