Kashmir Indepth

Implement Forest Rights Act in letter & spirit to safeguard forest dwellers: Bukhari

Srinagar, Jul 14 (KINS)
Apni Party Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari on Monday said that the Forest Rights Act need to be implemented in letter and spirit in Jammu and Kashmir so that the rights of the people living in forest for ages are safeguarded.
?Cancellation of forest zoning is detrimental to the environment because it can lead to hostile tendencies among the forest dwellers,? Bukhari said while addressing a public gathering at Waderbala-Rajwar-Handwara in Kupwara on Wednesday.
He said 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 drift wood for the 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, the 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 kilometer 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 to 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.

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