Environment, biodiversity, livelihood of people in IIOJ&K is under attack: AJK President

MUZAFFARABAD (Dunya News) - The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President, Sardar Masood Khan on Saturday said that at a time when the world was celebrating World Environment Day, India is intentionally destroying the fragile ecosystem in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).

In a message on the occasion of World Environment Day, he said that Kashmir is distinctive in the world due to its beautiful forests, lush green valleys, rivers, waterfalls, and biodiversity of flora and fauna. But unfortunately, the one million occupation army of India is busy building cantonments and military garrisons by relentlessly destroying the forests, polluting the rivers, lakes, and wetlands.

“IIOJK’s coniferous forests, wetlands, rivers, glaciers, lakes are all under threat due to the rapacious exploitation of the fragile ecosystems and massive land grab by the Indian occupation authorities. UNEP should declare it as an environmental disaster zone,” the President demanded.

He pointed out that currently most of the forests and mountains of Occupied territory are under the control of the Indian Army where the occupying forces are not only clearing the forests to build military camps but also using forest timber for cooking and heating purpose massively, leading to a serious environmental crisis in the region.

The anti-environment policies of the Indian authorities can be gauged from the fact that the military not only burnt the entire hamlets and settlements to ashes but also destroy fruit orchards in the areas where the military operation is conducted, he maintained.

The BJP-RSS government’s plan to bring 3.2 million Indian nationals from India to settle them on the forest land in IIOJK will not only change the demography but will also have a very serious negative impact on the natural environment of the region, Khan warned.

“The new Environment Policy in IOJK was designed to and is being used to delegitimize indigenous Kashmiri businesses and enterprises and to subcontract them to outsiders. The construction industry was the first to be hit,” he went on to say.
Commenting on Pakistan’s initiative to host World Environment Day 2021 in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), President Masood termed it a right step in the right direction.

“Pakistan is hosting World Environment Day 2021 today in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). A right step towards making amends for the omission that was made by not inviting Pakistan to the Climate Summit earlier this year,” he maintained.

Highlighting the steps being taken by the government in the liberated part of Kashmir, President Masood said that State Government is addressing issues and challenges of climate change and promoting sustainable development.

“A policy is being pursued in AJK to harmonize economic growth with the environment. It is possible only through a multi-departmental strategy,” Mr. Khan concluded.