Riyaz Ul Khaliq
J&K Government, Union Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the chief of army staff have been given last chance by National Green Tribunal (NGT) to file objections on using Bajpathri and other Green Meadows as Firing Ranges in state.
The directions were passed on April 7th, 2016 on hearing a petition filed by activists Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat.
Bhat has prayed in the petition that no green meadow or forest area in J&K should be used as a firing range by army.
“The green meadows, dense forests should be exempted from being used as Filed Firing Ranges by Army and other security agencies. This should not be limited to J&K state only, if such drills are undertaken in other states also, the same should be immediately stopped,” the petition reads. “Unexploded shells are still lying in the Tosa Maidan meadow which risk the human life.”
Bhat has sought a report from Secretary Ministry of Defence, Chief of the Army Staff and Chief Secretary of Jammu & Kashmir government on the issue of Bajpathree Yusmarg (Jammu & Kashmir) planned to be used as a field firing range.
Instead of Bajpathree, Bhat has asked the NGT that the authorities “be asked to undertake these drills in barren lands available in Ladakh region of J&K”.
Bhat filed his petition before NGT in January and first hearing was held on January 29 when it issued notices to J&K Government through Chief Secretary and Union Ministry of Defence seeking their responses.
On March Ist the counsels for the respondents sought time and NGT gave them two weeks. “There was no response from the two sides and the next date of hearing was kept on April 07,” Bhat told Kashmir Life, “but again the J&K government and MoD counsels sought more time.”
“Now, NGT has categorically told the respondents that they should come with counter-reasons as why firing range should not be established at Bajpathree and they have been given two more weeks to file responses,” Bhat said.
Quoting NGT order, Bhat said, “this is the last chance to them.”
Meanwhile, Bhat appealed Bandipora people to raise issue of Tragbal meadow which “authorities plan to use as a Field Firing Range”.