December 2, 2020

TOSAMAIDAN: Victim Of Kashmir Conflict, Hope Of Future

Kashmir conflict has not only consumed lives of innocent people but also caused severe damage to our local flora and fauna. Tosamaidan is one of the greatest example among areas, where much damage occurred due to large scale presence of forces. Presence of armed forces caused a severe damage to both flora as well as fauna of the said region. It is duty of people and government to take steps so that glory of these beautiful highland pastures can be restored.
Location and diversity
Tosamaidan also known as King of meadows is a beautiful place in Kashmir’s budgam district surrounded by Pir Panchal ranges. It is at a distance of 53 km from Srinagar, coordinates 33°55’4″N 74°29’57″E.Situated in Khag tehsil in District Budgam, it is at a distance of 10 km from Khag at the foot of Pir Panchal range. Tosamaidan has rich plant diversity. Meadows of Tosamaidan are surrounded by forests, having diversity of Pinus walliachiana, Abies pindrow, Picea simithiana etc. trees. Several medicinal plants are found in Tosamaidan including Aconiturum heterophyllum, Dioscorea deltoidia, Sassaurea lappa, Sambucus wightiana, Viburnum grandiflorum, Picrorrhiza kurooa, Podophyllum emodi, Artemisia sp, Jurinea microphylla etc.
Cause of large scale deforestation
In the year 1964, land of Tosamaidan was given on lease to Indian army which was than used by forces as an artillery firing range for 50 years. The lease finally ended on 14 April 2014. The large scale presence of forces inside highland pastures and forests caused severe ecological damage in the said region. Lakhs of trees were felled during these 50 years of lease of Tosamaidan land. For military activities, a famous beat at Tosamaidan was completely felled by forces. During these 50 years, Pasture lands suffered great damage due to continuous artillery firing and other military activities. . The wildlife has perished from forests of Tosamaidan because of the destruction caused to their habitat. The majority of damage in Tosamaidan forests was done during the lease time. Heavy artillery firing also resulted in soil erosion. In present time forests of Tosamaidan face destruction due to illegal logging by nearby villagers.
Sterling work of Forest department: Jammu and Kashmir Forest department is doing a commendable work in restoring the glory of Tosamaidan. From last few years department has taken several steps by virtue of which voids to local diversity, which was caused during lease time will be filled. Department has fenced large forest area of Tosamaidan. Various plantation activities were kick-started in the area. A special program was started by the department in the year 2019-20. Under this program 50 hectares of land was fenced by chain link fencing (10,000 RFTS.) and angle iron fencing (5000 RFTS.). The fencing of large area will help in protecting diversity of the region. In the year 2019-20, plantation activities under CAMPA were taken on priority basis by the department. As per figures 48077 conifer plants were planted by the department in the said region. In a nutshell department is doing commendable work in restoring glory of Tosamaidan and this work needs to be appreciated. Besides department it is also responsibility of nearby villagers to protect tosamaidan from illegal logging and protection of new plantations. It is duty of local people to protect new plantations from livestock. It is responsibility of local people to inform officials of Forest department whenever they notice any smuggling activity in the said region by smugglers. NGO organizations can also prove effective in restoring glory of tosamaidan. These organizations can organize plantation works in the said region. Awareness programs need to be conducted on priority basis so that people can be enlightened with the importance of these beautiful pasture lands and forests.
Conclusion : It is true that Tosamaidan has suffered a much larger damage during lease time but now it is our duty to restore the glory of these beautiful high-land pastures and forests. Forest department, local villagers and NGO organizations need to work collectively. Plantation works needs to be taken on war footing basis so that deforested area in tosamaidan can once again be converted into dense forests.
(Author is a research scholar at Faculty of Forestry SKUASTK. Views are his own) [email protected]

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