Save Tawi Biodiversity Park

In a rather unfortunate and ironic turn of events, the conscientious citizens of Jammu find themselves deeply concerned about the fate of Tawi Biodiversity Park. This concern arises amidst the celebrations of World Earth Day, International Day of Biological Diversity, and World Environment Day, which should ideally be a time of heightened awareness and appreciation for the environment.
Development at the cost of this biodiversity park raises significant concerns and deserves careful consideration. Biodiversity parks play a crucial role in preserving and protecting the natural environment, providing habitat for diverse plant and animal species, and contributing to the overall ecological balance. When such parks are threatened by development projects, it poses a serious risk to the local ecosystem and the services it provides. Trees and plants within these parks contribute to carbon sequestration, air purification, water regulation, and soil stability. The support system of pollinators and wildlife, which contributes to the overall biodiversity of the region, gets destroyed, which will disrupt ecological processes and negatively impact the overall resilience of the ecosystem.
Furthermore, this biodiversity park offers recreational and educational opportunities for Jammu, providing green spaces for people to connect with nature, relax, and learn about the importance of conservation. Losing such a park would deprive the community of these benefits and diminish their quality of life. On the one hand, in light of the global challenges we face, such as climate change and habitat loss, we talk about sustainable development practises that safeguard biodiversity and protect our natural resources, but on the other hand, we are sacrificing an already established green pasture at the altar of a concrete jungle. Balancing development with environmental conservation is crucial for the long-term well-being of both human societies and the planet.
The Jammu region has already seen enough tree carnage. Millions of trees have been sacrificed for the construction of the Chenab Rail Bridge and the Jammu-Srinager highway expansion. Around forty thousand trees are supposed to be cut for the forty-hectare Court Complex at Raika Forests. A few thousand had been cut for the Jammu-Akhnoor four-lane project. Factually, with each passing year, the tree cover surrounding Jammu is shrinking sharply. The loss of habitat for thousands of animals and birds is never accounted for. Ever-increasing temperatures and depleting groundwater are testimony that something is seriously wrong with our planning. While the mega projects are essential, the breathing lungs of Jammu City are getting depleted day by day. Even in Master Plan 2032, there are clear-cut plans to shift major Government offices from the city and develop parks and amenities. But the administration has been consistently violating the spirit of developing greener pastures within the city. Whatever leftover parks are there in the old city, some have been converted into open gyms with concrete tiles. Attempts were made to convert famous Zanana Park into Civil Secretariat parking.
Jammu Master Plan 2032 has special provisions for developing parks and gardens, but in actuality, nothing has been done. The case of this biodiversity park is different, as a well-established and maintained park developed after years of collective efforts will get removed from Jammu’s map just for the sake of developing a few blocks of buildings. Why aren’t project developers incorporating parks into their development plans? Why are these vital aspects of everyday life at the risk of disappearing? Is it due to a lack of awareness or sheer negligence on the part of the involved departments? The administration is responsible for investigating and finding the answers to these pressing questions.
It will be much appreciated if decision-makers thoroughly evaluate the potential environmental impacts and explore alternative development options that minimise harm to this biodiversity park. Engaging with local communities, environmental experts, and conservation organisations can provide valuable insights and help find innovative solutions that promote sustainable development while preserving the integrity of the park and its valuable ecosystem. Intervention from the highest offices can ensure a lifeline for this park.