Expert committee asks J&K to re-examine proposal
By: Ibni Maqbool
Srinagar: An expert panel has directed the Jammu & Kashmir Union administration to
re-examine the proposal of declaration of eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around Gulmarg wildlife sanctuary and submit a revised proposal to it.
A record note of the 47th ESZ expert committee for declaration of the eco-sensitive zone around protected areas (wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves) reveals that the proposal was deferred for consideration at a later stage once the revision is made as may be feasible.
“The Committee observed that the zero extent of ESZ on the ground purely that the area has tourist potential and habitations around Gulmarg WLS are dependent on tourist activities is not appropriate. The committee therefore agreed that if there are geographical attributes of the area then justification of zero extent has a point but purely on the fact that the entire area adjoins Jammu and therefore zero extent ESZ is not acceptable,” read the minutes of the meeting.
The meeting held on August 17 this year through videoconferencing was also attended by representatives of Jammu & Kashmir government.
The Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate change put the draft proposal for declaration of ESZ around Gulmarg wildlife sanctuary on June 8, 2021 for seeking public comments.
According to the record note, zero extent of eco-sensitive zone in some directions is proposed as the areas have tourist potential and the population living around the Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary mainly are dependent on tourist activities.
“If the entire area is included within the eco-sensitive zone, then livelihood of the villagers will be directly affected,” the note states.
The Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary is spread over 180 square kilometers. It was first declared as a game reserve in 1981 and later upgraded to a sanctuary in 1987.
The mammals found in the sanctuary include Himalayan brown bear, Asiatic black bear, Leopard, Musk deer, Kashmir grey langur, Snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, Red fox and Leopard cat. It also acts as a natural corridor in the movement of brown bear and markhor between Poonch and the Kashmir Valley forests.