SRINAGAR, July 14: Apni Party Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Monday asserted that the Forest Rights Act need to be implemented in letter and spirit across Jammu and Kashmir so that the forest dwellers that have since ages remained dependent on the raw resources are benefitted and their rights are safeguarded.
Bukhari was speaking to a public gathering at Waderbala-Rajwar-Handwara in Kupwara district wherein he said that cancellation of forest zoning is detrimental to the environment because it can lead to hostile tendencies among the forest dwellers.
“The government must continue with the benefits given to the forest dwellers under Kashmir Forest Notice whereby the inhabitants of forest zones especially in category-A were provided with timber at nominal rates. Similarly the government should enforce the Forest Rights Act on ground if at all it is serious in preventing deforestation across Jammu and Kashmir,” Bukhari opined.
He expressed regrets on the sufferings of inhabitants of border districts who are deprived of the benefits accorded by the Forest Department under law.”Earlier, the forest dwellers were allowed to use the fallen trees, damaged or driftwood for contraction purposes. Unfortunately, the State Forest Corporation bars the people living in the forest zones from their inherent advantages,” Bukhari remarked.
Referring to the tourism potential of Kupwara, Apni Party President stressed on the J&K Government to augment the tourism infrastructure in the district and bring the virgin destinations on the tourism map. “Bungus Valley is a world-known tourism spot with its unique picturesque ambiance. The only loophole is that it lags in tourism infrastructure,” he said, adding that the Tourism Department should focus on development of such destinations if it wants an increased footfall of tourists in border areas.
He said that the tourism potential of Bungus Valley needs to be honed so that the local unemployed youth are able to fetch self sustenance. “People of this area are badly suffering from water scarcity, poor roads, dismal education and health infrastructure. It is regrettable that only a kilometre of distance connecting Waderbala with Bungus Valley has not been developed into a motorable road by the successive governments and the local leaders. The natives, not to talk of tourists, are supposed to walk by foot upto at least five kilometers to reach Bungus Valley. I appeal the government to look into these genuine grievances of the people and resolve the same without any further delay,” he added.
Bukhari urged the Public Works Department to go for blasting of a hill that can minimize the distance between Bungus valley and the adjoining villages.
Addressing the occasion, Party Senior Vice President Ghulam Hassan Mir emphasized on the District Party leaders to strengthen their cadres by listening and addressing the grievances of the people round the clock.
“The core agenda of the Apni Party is to mitigate the sufferings of the people and we should always be at their service. Our manifesto encompasses the holistic development of Jammu and Kashmir without any regional bias and I assure that Apni Party will work tirelessly for an overall development of Kupwara district,” Mir said.
Besides Mir, the meeting was attended by Provincial President Mohammad Ashraf Mir, District President Kupwara Raja Manzoor, District Vice President Abdul Rahim Wani, District Vice President Abdul Rashid Bhat, District Secretary Bilal Arif, District Coordinator Dr Tajamul and Mohammad Amin Bhat, Syed Ashraf, Irshad Malik, Ayoub Kataria, Hafizullah Bakshi, Manzoor Ganaie, Aijaz Mir, Mohammad Amin Pir, Shabir Ahmad, Farooq Chechi, Gulam Qadir Wani, Habibulah, Qayoom Geelani, Mohammad Shafi and Ashiq Hussian.