SRINAGAR: In what could be a brazen move, J&K government is all set to chop off at least 1,200 pine trees in the famous ski resort Gulmarg in north Kashmir on the recommendations of authorities and local legislator. The decision has been taken to pave way for smooth ride of Gondola in the wake of recent accident that left seven tourists dead and dozens injured.
According to the sources, the government has started acting on the proposal of chopping of at least 1,200 pine trees made by the MLA, Tangmarg, Mohd Abbas Wani. The famous ski resort falls under his constituency.
“These are 100 years old Pine trees. How can Department of Forest allow them to chop off these trees when the government has recently planted thousands of trees across Jammu and Kashmir during the plantation drives,” an official of Forest Department told STATE TIMES.
“Authorities have started the exercise to mark the pine trees in the area where the accident took place. It was stated that a pine tree, uprooted by strong winds, fell on the ropeway of Gulmarg Gondola severing the lines and plummeting the cable car to the ground,” said an official
Recently, the review meeting for Gondola corridor clearance was held under the supervision of Minister for Forest, Lal Singh in whch MLA Tangmarg, Mohd Abbas Wani and other top officials of Gulmarg Development Authority and State Cable Car Corporation were also present. “In the meeting the local MLA, Abbas Wani and officials of Gulmarg Development Authority had suggested Forest Minister that for ensuring hassle free Gandola ride, at least 1200 pine trees are needed to be chopped off,” sources told STATE TIMES.
“The local MLA had insisted on chopping off 1,200 pine trees. He had said to Minister for Forest that I will plant 2,000 new pine trees from my constituency development fund(CDF) once you chop off the 1200 pine trees which we have counted in numbers one by one,” sources added.
However, Minister of State for Forest, Ecology and Environment, Animal and Sheep Husbandry, Cooperative and Fisheries, Zahoor Ahmad Mir told STATE TIMES that he has not received any file regarding this matter. “The authorities cannot chop off a single pine tree without the permission of government,” he added.
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