200 sq km of forest land in Budgam now community forest: FRC

Excelsior Correspondent

Srinagar, July 30: In a historic development, a collaborative Gram Sabha comprising Panchayats Brenwar, Neego, and Jabbad in Budgam district declared 200 square kilometres of forest land as Community Forest, J&K Forest Rights Coalition (FRC) said today.
In a statement issued here, the FRC said that the landmark event took place during the Gram Sabha on Community Forest Rights, where the communities came together to secure their rights to the cherished land they have nurtured for generations.
“The atmosphere during the proceedings was filled with enthusiasm and determination, as local community members recognized the immense significance of gaining ownership and management rights over this precious natural resource,” it said.
Dignitaries, including Nazir Ahmed Chowdhary, Vice-chairman of the DDC council Budgam, and Kulsuma Bano, BDC Chairperson of Suresyar, attended the occasion.
Notably, the FRC mentioned that Sarpanch Jadden Mohammad Aslam Khan, FRC Chairperson Jadden, Sarpanch, and FRC Chairperson Ladden, Sarpanch and FRC Chairperson Gogjipathri, Sarpanch, and FRC Chairperson Bonen, Sarpanch Shumnag Muqam, and FRC Chairperson Shumnag Muqam- Nazir Ahmed Chopan played a crucial role in ensuring the success of the Gram Sabha and vowed to continue taking the legacy forward.
Experts from the J&K Forest Rights Coalition, Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, and Dr. Zahid Parwaz Choudhary, lent their expertise to the proceedings, further solidifying the legitimacy and professionalism of the Gram Sabha.
The FRC said that Nazir Ahmed Chopan emphasized the historical significance of alpine meadows like Ieed, Ladar mad, Zand-Kabar, Diskhal, and Kundlen, which belong to the Chopan community as per community bylaws.
“He emphasized that these lands have served as grazing lands for over 600 years, and their division between different communities, like Gujjars and Chopans, should be respected by all,” FRC said, quoting Chopan.
The coordination during the Joint Gram Sabha was managed by Mohd Ashraf Jahara, a Senior RTI activist and District President of the FRC.
The Coalition said that the declaration of 200 square kilometres of forest land as a Community Forest marks a significant step towards protecting and conserving natural resources while empowering local communities in Budgam.