‘State Govt has no mandate to offer land to army’
Hurriyat Conference (G) on Tuesday termed as unacceptable the government’s plan to shift the Tosomaidan firing range to the famous tourist destination of Yusmarg.
“Yusmarg is among the world famous naturally beautiful health resorts of Kashmir where three lakh tourists visit annually. This area is the home to pure water sources, providing drinking water to millions of people and also serves as a vital source for irrigation for thousands of acres of agriculture land. Shifting firing range to Yusmarg will destroy hundreds of kanals of forest land and hundreds of families residing in the surrounding areas whose occupation is grazing the cattle in the green fields of Yusmarg. It will also snatch their livelihood,” the amalgam spokesman said in a statement today, adding, “It is unfortunate that the state government is acting as facilitator to the Indian army in grabbing our land.”
The spokesman has asked the people of the area to register their protest against the government plan, assuring them that Hurriyat would stand by them and mobilize public opinion in this respect.
“There are already thousands of kanals of state land illegally allotted to the Indian army. The presence of army camps in green belts of the state is extremely harming the environment, water resources and forests of Valley. It has created many new issues for the state and the situation can any time turn ugly,” the spokesman said.
Hurriyat also criticized the role of state government, saying, “They offered many alternate areas to the Indian army in place of the Tosomaidan firing range while the fact remains that they don’t have any legal or moral authority to do it nor have they got mandate to offer the state land to the Indian army.”
“The Land Grants Bill was passed in the assembly during the period of Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah and this Bill was made a source to lease out state land to outsiders,” the spokesman said, adding, “The anti-Kashmir policies of Modi government have doubled the responsibilities of the Hurriyat Conference. Therefore, Hurriyat is working out strategy to counter these policies.”
No question of replacing Tosamaidan by Yusmarg: Govt
State government on Tuesday has termed media reports that Yusmarg was being proposed to be leased out to Army for conducting artillery exercises, as totally baseless and ill-conceived.
Reacting to reports that appeared in a section of local press, Minister for Finance, Abdul Rahim Rather said there was no question of replacing Tosamaidan by Yusmarg as firing range, adding that there was no such move from the government.
Dispelling all apprehensions in this regard, Rather said: “Yusmarg is one of the famous tourist resorts of the state where basic tourism infrastructure is being developed at a faster pace. Yusmarg Development Authority has already initiated several measures to develop tourism infrastructure. Recently, a modern TRC has been inaugurated there for the convenience of the tourists.”
He said survey is being conducted to construct a cable car project from Yusmarg to Bargah and Yusmarg to Neelnag which will go a long way in promoting tourism activities in the area. He added Yusmarg Master Plan is under implementation which does not allow any violation of land use.
Rather said it was beyond one’s imagination that a developed tourist place like Yusmarg would be allowed to be used for artillery exercises. He said it seems some vested interests were raking up the issue unnecessarily to play mischief and create confusion among the people.