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Govt Declares 1388 Kanals of Land in Gulmarg & Sonmarg As ‘Strategic Areas’
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Govt Declares 1388 Kanals of Land in Gulmarg & Sonmarg As ‘Strategic Areas’

3247 Kanals and 17 Marlas of land in Badheri village of district Samba of Jammu region has been allotted for the purpose of field firing and artillery practice for a period of 10 years.


SRINAGAR — Tourism Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir has declared 1034 Kanals of land at the famous ski resort, Gulmarg and 354 Kanals of land at the famous tourist resort in Sonmarg as ‘Strategic Areas’ at the request of Corp Commander, under the sub-section 3 of Jammu and Kashmir Developmental Act, 1970 for operational and training requirements of Armed Forces.

The national board for wildlife had given its approval in 2019 for weaponry projects. Pertinently 1.18 hectares of this land comes under Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary. The project which is intended to keep a watch on Line of Control and cross-LoC “infiltration” has been a long pending demand of armed forces.

According to the website of the J&K Wildlife Protection Department, the area of land which has been allotted to the Armed Forces consists of many animals including the highly endangered Musk Deer.

Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary was upgraded from Man and Biosphere Reserve in the year 1987. The area is one of the best world-renowned tourist destinations for its famous meadows, rocky cliffs, dense birch forests, and a home for bird watchers. The sanctuary has rich flora and fauna, bio-diversity with variegated species like musk deer, common leopard, barking deer, Asiatic black bear, Himalayan black bear, Indian wolf, snow cock, chakoor.

The government of India has consistently said that the forest cover of Jammu and Kashmir is increasing, however, independent experts have rejected these estimates by pointing to the “flawed methodology” adopted by the government. According to the forest Survey of India’s latest report, the forest cover in Jammu and Kashmir increased by 370 sq km in comparison to the forest cover in 2017, but the figure has been disputed even by the government’s own experts.

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On October 28, the Jammu and Kashmir Administration gave a nod for transferring 65.5 acres to CRPF for establishing camping sites at eight villages in Anantnag, Shopian, and Pulwama districts.

In 2019, the Indian Army had approached the Jammu and Kashmir High court after locals had opposed such a move. The Indian Army had a proposal of building camps in Sonmarg. The political leaders of Kashmir have repeatedly questioned the transfer of land to Armed forces in the valley.

In another order by the Home Department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, 3247 Kanals and 17 Marlas of land situated in Badheri village of district Samba of Jammu region has been allotted for the purpose of field firing and artillery practice for the period of 10 years under section 9 of the Manoeuvres, Field Firing, and Artillery Practice Act, 1938.

The unilateral abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A gave power to the government of India to declare any area ‘strategic’ and intended for the direct operational and training requirements of the armed forces at the behest of an army officer above the rank of the corps commander.

The MHA has revoked 12 state laws as a whole while another 26 have been adapted with changes or substitutes. Laws that are repealed as a whole include the Jammu and Kashmir Alienation of Land Act, Jammu and Kashmir Big Landed Estates Abolition Act, Jammu and Kashmir Common Lands (Regulation) Act 1956, Jammu and Kashmir Consolidation of Holdings Act 1962, Jammu and Kashmir Right of Prior Purchase Act, and the Jammu and Kashmir Utilization of Lands Act.

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