June 2016 News

JK Loses Green Pastures To Construction Boom

10 June 2016
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir is fast losing its lush green pastures to construction boom even as vast pastures, close to Line of Control, remain inaccessible, hurting local economy, the Legislative Assembly discussed on Friday. During the discussion on the demand of grants for Animal and Sheep Husbandry and Fisheries, the Minister, Abdul GaniKohli said the State's meadows and grazing fields have been shrinking over the years. He attributed construction boom in the State Tourism sector, conversion of pastures into horticulture land and interference by Wildlife Department as main reasons behind thinning greenery across the State. The Minister said fencing of the land in villages close to the border in Jammu and Kashmir was contributing to the problem. 'Our pastures are being turned into orchards and owing to expansion in the Tourism sector we are losing the grazing fields. This is a concern,' said the Minister, responding to the discussion. He said when the situation was deteriorating in '90s, following the onset of the militancy in Kashmir, Army carried out fencing in the villages near the borders to restrict the movement of people. 'These fields continue to remain inaccessible on the borders even today when the situation has improved. We will raise the issue with the Army to get access to these pastures,' said the Minister. He said after the Kargil conflict, the border needed fencing. 'But it hit grazing of cattle also. I will raise the issue with the army to get back the grazing land. It will benefit cattle rearing and the state in general,' Kohli said. He talked about the State's deficit in mutton production, saying against the demand of 505 lakh kilograms of mutton the State is producing only 321 lakh kilograms. 'We are dependent on outside markets to meet the growing demand,' he said. Stating that the State's poultry production has grown from 431 lakh kilograms in 2007 to 640 kilograms, the Minister informed the House that the Department continues to import one-day old chicks from outside. 'The annual import is worth Rs 6.5 crore,' he said. During the discussion, ruling PDP legislator from Karnah Raja Manzoor demanded realignment and removal of fencing from certain villages in his constituency to allow grazing of cattle and free movement of people. 'The fencing has made grazing fields and forest land inaccessible for cattle rearing, hitting livelihood of people,' Manzoor said. The legislator said fencing in Teetwal, Keran has divided the villages and residential areas with Higher Secondary School, main market, hospital, police station and DakBunglow located inside the fencing area.