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Govt of India declares 62. 2 Sq Kms around Gulmarg as ‘eco-sensitive zone’

By: Nasir Azam

Srinagar, May 12: The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has declared 62.2 square kilometers around Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary as eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).

In a formal notification, the Ministry has notified that the ESZ shall be of 62.2 square kilometers, with an extent of zero to 4.1 kilometers around the boundary of Gulmarg wildlife sanctuary.

“The ‘zero’ extent of eco-sensitive zone is proposed towards eastern side as it adjoins the Ferozpura watershed comprising Gulmarg wildlife sanctuary which is bifurcated geographically by geological features like high mountains, peaks and glaciers. The eco-sensitive zone is kept 0.05 kilometers towards Southern side, 0.012 kilometers towards South-Western side and 0.012 kilometers on Western side of the Gulmarg wildlife sanctuary because the area is well known tourist spot with large tourist footfalls all around the year and there is no scope of eco-sensitive zone extent possible on these sides,” reads the notification.

According to the ministry, there is no village/township which fall within the proposed eco-sensitive zone of Gulmarg wildlife sanctuary.

As per mandatory requirements, the UT government shall prepare a zonal master plan for the purposes of the eco-sensitive zone.

“The Union territory government shall, for the purposes of the eco-sensitive zone prepare a zonal master plan within a period of two years from the date of publication of this notification in the official gazette, in consultation with local people and adhering to the stipulations given in this notification for approval of the competent authority in the Union territory government,” the notification states.

It is worthwhile to mention that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had put the draft proposal for declaring ESZ around the sanctuary in public domain on June 7, 2021.

Surrounded by Jhelum Valley Forest Division (Baramulla) in North and forest division of Poonch and Pir-Panchal in South, the  Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary on March 14, 1987.

The protected area is an abode of rich faunal and floral bio-diversity with varied species like endemic Himalayan musk deer common leopard , Asiatic black bear, Himalayan brown bear red fox , Himalayan snow cock , Kashmir flying squirrel , Himalayan marmot , Kashmir vampire , Himalayan Langur , Himalayan monal) and Chakoor etc. —(KNO)

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