JAMMU, Feb 19: Cutting across their party lines, the Opposition MLAs today expressed grave concern over the encroachment of Forest land in the State and urged the Government to take tough measures in restoring the same.
While Jammu West MLA, Prof Chaman Lal Gupta expressed concern over encroachment of Forest land demanded its protection from encroachers, PDP’s Javed Mustafa Mir showed anguish over the encroachment of land of water bodies including Hakursar and Wullar lake.
Participating in the debate on annual grants of Forest, Tourism and Fisheries Ministry in the State Assembly today, Prof Gupta said that thousands hectares of forest land has been encroached in the State and a meager portion of it was retrieved by the department.
Javed Mustafa Mir said in House Committee it was discussed that 400 to 500 kanals of land of Hakursar was encroached and the condition of Shalbug and Wullar lake is in no way different. He said that both these water bodies have squeezed due to increasing encroachments by farmers and Pathwaris who are hand in glove with them are regularizing the encroachments.
He also demanded that permission be given on hunting which was open during the Maharaja’s rule. He said hunting is banned in papers but the officers of the department allow it illegally.
Prof Gupta while showing his concern over failure of Government in starting rope way project of Bagh-e- Bahu and taking up other projects in hand stressed on promotion of Katra -Sudhmahadev Tourist Circuit as proposed by former Governor Jagmohan.
BJP’s Master Lal Chand showed concern over the Government’s failure in boosting tourism sector which has a lot of potential to boost economy of the State.
He said on the pattern of Dalhousi in HP tourism can be developed in his Bani Constituency also which has many tourist spots but no attention has been paid to the same.
PDP’s Nizam-ud-Din Bhat said forests are sign of prosperity and in J&K the forests are facing many challenges like protection, promotion, dwindling area, increasing environment hazards, animal and human vulnerability, increasing social need, smuggling, protection from forest fire and resource utilization.
He said the Department got Rs 3 crore in Bandipora and there was no proper utilization of the same as local representatives were not consulted.
M S Niaz of Congress stressed on boosting tourism and providing best facilities to tourists so that more and more tourists are attracted to the State with our hospitality.
Peer Mansoor who criticized Tourism Minister said that he was making political tours to his constituency and making high promises to people while till date he failed to sanction Rs 15 lakh for three tourist huts at Achabal in Anantnag in South Kashmir.
Balwant Singh Mankotia of NPP demanded environment park in his constituency and clearance given to roads in Udhampur area by Forest Department.
Jugal Kishroe Sharma said that though tourists visit the State in lakhs but due to lack of facilities for them the people are unable to get proper benefit.
Rafiq Ahmed Mir of PDP expressed the hope that Tourism Minister will take up mega projects of tourism in hand in South Kashmir and demanded that some basic facilities for tourists be created at Wanpooh in Anantnag which is the gate way of Kashmir.
Charanjit Singh of Congress demanded protection to 213 kanals of land of Lakhanpur Tourism Development Authority.
Ashwani Sharma of JSM said that work was abandoned on Jammu water tourism projects and demanded that the same be completed at an earliest.
He demanded development of Purmandal and Uterbhani for pilgrimage tourism and Surinsar-Mansar and Patnitop etc.
Ashok Khajuria expressed concern over encroachment in Tawi area and attention be paid to Raghunath Mandir for promotion of heritage and pilgrimage tourism while Ashok Kumar of Congress said Patnitop, Kud and Batote can have best potential for tourism after the construction tunnel.
Yashpaul Kundal of NPP demanded regularization of casual laborers in Forest Department while Nasir Aslam Wani of NC stressed on protection of forests.
Krishen Chander of Congress also participated in the debate.