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Ecological Disaster amid COVID-19 Pandemic, ‘Heritage’ Garden destroyed, writes Environmental Lawyer

Nadeem Qadri

Srinagar, May 17: 100 Years old Sweet Chestnut Hertigate Garden Razed to the Ground, hundreds of Heritage Sweet Chestnut Trees Massacred. Horticulture Department sold without NoC the prime Chestnut Orchard to Power Development Department (PDD) at Harwan, Srinagar, Kashmir.

Dear Fellow Green Citizens,
I am writing this with my utter discontentment that the Jammu and Kashmir Government, Horticulture Department has transferred the very pristine Sweet Chestnut Heritage Garden situated at Harwan to Power Development Department, Jammu and Kashmir for the development of High Radiation Power Grid Station.

It is pertinent to mention here that the site proposed for the aforementioned project is situated next to the World famous, Dachigam National Park which serves as an abode to myriad endangered wildlife species including our very prestigious Kashmir Deer, “Hangul”. 

The area is surrounded by a huge population that is round the clock into multifarious activities. The proposed project is of immense threat to both the human population and the wildlife species that are residing around it.
The power grid project has been proposed to be constructed at Harwan just 400 meters from the Main Gate of Dachigam National Park and 50 meters from Dachigam Nalla, The said site constitutes to be very productive horticulture orchard land now vandalized and has zero feasibility for construction of a power grid. 

The construction of Power grid station without an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) under Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 at the orchard land is against established Principles of Natural Justice as more than three Public Interest Litigations are pending before the Hon’ble High Court of J&K awaiting orders and the act of doing things under the garb of COVID-19 PANDEMIC is grossly against the will of the people of this area. 

This project will not only turn the land barren due to High Frequency Electro-Megnatic Radiations but it is also going to disturb the ecology of the area already declared as Eco-Sensitive Zone proposed to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. This disturbance to Wildlife, National Park and Ecology is going to leave the people of the area disgruntled. 

There is a high need that this project should be stopped immediately and I urge the Anti Corruption Bureau, Kashmir to investigate the matter in detail in order to elicit more crucial information.

Nadeem Qadri is an Environmental Lawyer, and the Executive Director of Centre for Environmental Law .