|S T Haq|
Early Times Report
Srinagar, Jan 20: Multi Thousand crores were approved, with the utilization of 14 hectares of forest land for which scores of green trees were chopped off to build Handwara -Bangus Road, despite having an alternative road has raised question on PWD (R&B) and forest advisory committee 2017 for proposing and allowing road construction via forests.
According to reliable sources that, " The minutes of the 102nd of the Forest Advisory Committee was held on 06/09/2017 under the chairmanship of the then Chief Secretary, J&K Government vide notification no: PCCF/FCA/2450/4143-63 dated 12/09/2017.
The item wise agenda of various proposals from the indenting agencies for diversion of forest land for non forest proposes under Forest Conversation Act was presented in the meeting, in which various decisions were taken out, said sources.
Sources while quoting the minutes of the meeting said that, "the proposal vides agenda no: 102.12 states that, proposal to allow use of 14 Ha of forest land for construction of road from Handwara to Bangus phase 1st by PWD (R&B) in Langate Forest Division.
However in the decision, the proposal was approved in principal in view of the request of Chief Engineer PWD (R&B) that the work for the road has already been awarded and funds allocated. The Chief Secretary/Chairman FAC directed that efforts be made to reduce the number of trees coming in the alignment by 20%, said sources.
Sources further said that, after initial proposal work in the year 2016 multi thousand crores Handwara -Bangus road was approved in the year 2017 and R&B Department invited tenders vide Number : 2017 PWDJK 40982-1 for the construction of Handwara-Bangus road phase 1st INR 11,000 EMD, INR 3,812,000, Tender Estimated Cost: INR 190,600,000.
Subsequently R&B Division Handwara in month of June 2018 vide number E NIT 03 of 2018_19 invited tenders of 2nd phase of the road project in question that was estimated cost 271000000 cr.
Various Social and Environment Protection Activists in question said that, there was no need to approve the proposal, despite there was having an alternate road to reach to the, 'Bangus Valley' tourist destination in north Kashmir's Kupwara district.
However they said that a high-level probe should be done into this multi thousand crore project, due to which scores of green lush trees were chopped off, and with the result there are serve chances of environmental degradation in the area.
These activists have demanded that, beside a high level probe, government must order for immediate cancellation of further work on this road to save public exchequer and green forests in the area, otherwise they will hit the streets and lodge a protest against the concerned authorities.
Meanwhile Rights Activist Rasikh Rasool said that this is really unfortunate, despite best alternate of 30ft width road was available via Rajwar and there was no need to destroy 14 hectare forest land plus destruction of scores of green trees.
He said, in the greater interest of environment further work on this road must be immediately stopped; balance budget should be utilized to widen existing road via Rajwar.
"Only 25% of funds from Handwara Bangus road in question was enough to revamp and widen and compensate to properties coming under alignment of road via Rajwar, but everyone one is in fix why Govt is hell-bent to spend huge funds to destroy multiple hectors of forest land to construct Handwara Bangus Road, Rasikh added.