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Kishen Ganga wildlife sanctuary project awaits official nod

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‘J&K Govt yet to notify proposed area despite joint inspection seven years ago’

Ejaz-ul-haq Bhat
Bandipora: The proposed Kishen Ganga Wildlife Sanctuary project is in limbo despite getting a nod from the Government of India to declare compartments of Gurez Forest Range of Forest Territorial Division Bandipora as “Wildlife Protected Area” since the area has rich flora and fauna.
These compartments included compartment number: k/42, k/45, k/46, k/47a, k/47b, k/48, k/49, parts of k/50, k/51b, k/51c, k/52, k/53, k/54, k/55 and k/56 of Gurez Forest Range comprising an area of 108.22 Sq kms.
Sources said that the Jammu and Kashmir government is yet to notify the proposed area as Wildlife Protected Area despite getting recommendations from Forest division Bandipora and Wildlife division north Kashmir.
Official documents reveal that a joint inspection and survey by Forest and Wildlife department of the forest areas of Gurez was conducted to explore the possibilities to identify the land for proposing as “Wildlife Sanctuary”.
“The areas were visited on 24th and 25th of August 2013. Different beats and blocks of Gurez range including those of Khoihama range of Bandipora Forest Territorial Division were also surveyed. Areas of Tulail, Baktoor and other areas falling in different watersheds of Gurez and Kishen Ganga were also surveyed. It was established that due to local disturbance, the presence of wild animals is in scant form,” the documents reveal.
Sources said that on the basis of ground survey, available wild animal data, information from the local and nomadic grazers about the presence of wild animals and keeping in view the assemblage of wild animals and to avoid apprehensions of Man-Wild animal confrontations in future in some particular forest area following forest compartments of Gurez Forest Range of Forest Territorial Division Bandipora were identified to be notified as wildlife protected area under one constituent, named as “Kishen Ganga Wildlife Sanctuary.”
Kishen Ganga Wildlife Sanctuary is named after the famous mountain river Kishen Ganga which has its rise in Tulail and runs east to west of Gurez Valley dividing the area into two halves and marks the Northern boundary of Kishen Ganga Wildlife Sanctuary.
The area falls on the Western side of remote Himalayan alpine valley of Gurez and on left river-course of Kishen Ganga, the area lies about 150 kms to the North-Eastern of Srinagar city and encompasses the catchment of Bosi Nallah, Badri Nallah, Koragbal Nallah, Dudhkul Nallah, and Ather Nallah, surrounded by Bosi, Nanwaii, Koragbal, Dudhkul, Handanmarg and Gagan forests of Gurez forest block.
Kishen Ganga Wildlife Sanctuary comprises boundaries of Gurez valley and Kishen Ganga River on the north, Khoihama forests of Bandipora on south, Tulail and Sindh Forest division on East and Kanzalwan, Baktoor and Masil forests on the West.
The proposed track comprises an area of 108.22 Sq.kms and involves the top Bosi Nallah, Badri Nallah, Koragbal Nallah, Dudhkul Nallah and Gagan forests up to Razdan Top. The area is roughly rectangular in shape.
Officials in the Wildlife Department said that the exquisite beauty of the alpine meadows, rocky cliffs, snow swathed mountains, Kail, Fir and Birch forests of the proposed area had made it haven for wild animals.
“Rich and variegated wild animals are found in the area most of them are highly endangered and need proper protection for their survival,” they said.
A senior Wildlife official said that the deep Nallahs, ridges and rocky cliffs provide good shelters and breeding areas for highly endangered wild animal species like Musk Deer, Himalayan Brown Bear and transitional home range of Asiatic Ibex who followed the area from all across Zanskar range and Pir-Panjal Mountains.
He said that the adjacent Khoihama forest areas of the proposed Sanctuary are important foraging grounds for world-famous Kashmir Deer (Hangul).
“The characteristic, unique topography and inaccessibility of major parts of the proposed area have accorded to the tract a natural protection against biotic influences.”
The official documents reveal that in view of the rich biodiversity of the Gurez area it was already decided by the government vide SRO NO. 128 Fst of 1991 dated 13-5-1991 to survey some important areas of Gurez for declaring them as “Wildlife protected Areas”.
“Since the proposed area harbors rich flora and fauna and to ensure their survival through preservation, propagation and perpetuation the area needs to be declared as “Kishen Ganga Wildlife Sanctuary” under section 17 of Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act 1978 (amended up to 2002),” the document reads.
Wildlife Warden, North Kashmir Range, Mohammad Maqbool Baba said that they have already submitted the proposal to the government and its notification is still awaited.
“It is the discretion of the administrative department to scrutinize the proposal and see if there are any changes to be made and is it viable. We had submitted the proposal a few years ago and we were asked to submit a revised proposal after some changes were made. We have submitted the revised proposal as well but the notification from the government is still awaited,” he said. (KNO)

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