Environment under great stress in J&K: Parliamentary Panel

*Recommends check on unplanned growth, encroachment of wetlands

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, Aug 14: Parliamentary Panel on Environment and Forests has pointed out that ecological degradation caused by unplanned development and urbanization along with reckless encroachment on the wetlands and depleting natural forest cover have been putting environment under great stress in Jammu and Kashmir and contributing a lot in the natural calamities, which have become a regular phenomenon in this State during the past few years.
The Parliamentary Panel, which presented its report on “unprecedented floods in Srinagar and warning and forecasting of floods and environmental issues in Jammu” in the Rajya Sabha during the just concluded session, has observed that pace and process of economic growth has put the environment under great stress and the need of the hour was to make environment and development supplementary and complementary to each other in a way that the two sustain each other.
Headed by Member Parliament, Ashwani Kumar, the Departmental Related Parliamentary Standing Committee made these observations and recommended slew of corrective measures after holding wide range of discussions on the subject during its visit to different parts of Jammu and Kashmir in the months of May and July this year.
As far as unprecedented floods in Kashmir valley are concerned, the Parliamentary Panel has observed, “though the floods of magnitude that occurred in Srinagar in September 2014 were unprecedented but with the technological advancement in India particularly in weather forecasting, it should not have been impossible to forecast and forewarn the people so that damage could have been minimized more so when we had the experience of torrential rain and its aftermath in Uttrakhand not too long ago”.
Stating that vagaries of weather, erratic and unpredictable climatic behavior with discernible and debilitating impact on human life and livelihood has been manifesting at regular intervals, the Parliamentary Panel has recommended dredging of water-bodies on war-footing so that carrying/holding capacity could be enhanced. Moreover, it has recommended replacement of old drainage system of Srinagar with new drainage system that could cope up with future exigencies.
“The Central Water Commission should process the Detailed Project Report for conservation of Dal Lake expeditiously and effect of cement factories in Khrew area on environment should be examined for corrective measures”, the Panel said, adding “Ministry of Earth Sciences and Indian Meteorological Department should coordinate and integrate their effort with the State Government and ensure timely warning and forecasting for such calamities particularly floods”.
About the environmental issues in Jammu, the Parliamentary Panel has observed, “there are formidable environmental challenges such as rising population, haphazard urbanization, growing industrialization, ever increasing number of vehicles plying on the roads, depleting natural forest cover, inadequate facilities for disposal of sewerage and solid waste”.
The Panel has recommended afforestation process not only to bridge the gap between the plantation and trees that are cut but also to increase the forest areas on war footing basis. “Action against encroachment of forest land should be intensified and there should be strict enforcement of laws in this regard”, the Panel said, adding “the concerned agencies should mobilize the resources for cleaning of River Tawi and immediate action should be taken for removal of waste on river bed”.
Suggesting incorporation of solid waste management in the Master Plan, the Panel said that Master Plan should have provision for green spaces and parks. Moreover, noise pollution should be tackled effectively.
It has also recommended effective steps for disposal of waste at Mata Vaishnodevi Yatra and Amarnath Yatra routes and an effective mechanism to ensure that the ecology of these areas is not disturbed. “Environment should be introduced as a compulsory subject in schools to create awareness and time frame devised for eviction of encroached forest land”, the Panel further stressed.

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