The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Friday issued notices to Union Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Jammu & Kashmir Government over the issue of handing over of Bajpathri meadow in Yusmarg to Army for undertaking Field Firing drills.
The bench headed by Chairperson of NGT Justice Swatantra Kumar issued the notice to respondents Ministry of Defence, J&K Govt through Defence Secretary, Chief Secretary J&K and Principal Secretary Forests J&K Government.
The petition a copy of which is available with Kashmir Life, has been filed by RTI & Social Activist Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat through his counsel Advocates Rahul Chowdhary and Ritwick Dutta.
Dr Muzaffar has also filed stay application before the chairperson National Green Tribunal.
Speaking to Kashmir Life, Dr Muzaffar said, “the lawyers have been very helpful in the case. I have been staying in New Delhi for last many days where I met many people and finally NGT accepted our petition and has shot notices to MoD and J&K Government over giving land to army.”
The counsels have requested the NGT to direct the Ministry of Defence (MoD), GoI and J&K Government not to handover Bajpathri meadow to Army for firing drills as it would damage the environment, forest and wildlife in the area plus deprive locals of their livelihood.
Dr Muzaffar, through his counsels, has also appealed NGT that Tosmaidan should be cleared of all the live shells/mortars which remain scattered in the area.
The proposed plan of J&K government to hand over tourist rich Bajpathri to army faced wide spread criticism from across the spectrum. The locals led a campaign following which previous PDP-BJP government had to make it clear that “there was no such plan in offing”.
The next date of hearing of the petition has been fixed on March Ist.
The petition includes following points:
- Direct Respondent No. 3 (J&K Govt) to clear the Tosmaidan meadow from the unexploded and used shells and restore the area.
- Direct the Respondent No. 1 & 3 (MoD & J&K Govt) to do the inspection of surface soil, ground water, and other water bodies for any contamination and pollution and decontaminate the same.
iii. Direct the Respondent No. 1, i.e. J&K State Government not to lease out the Bajpathri meadow for the purpose of field firing and artillery practices.
- Pass any such order as this Hon’ble Tribunal may be pleased to pass in the facts and circumstances of the case.