Jammu, also known as “City of Temples” located on the foot hills of Shivalik ranges is blessed by nature.
River Tawi flows exactly in the middle of the city and has immense green cover around it. This forest cover of Jammu city, not only magnifies the beauty of the city but also very important for the ecological balance of the region.
Rakia is one of the forest areas in the outskirts of the city, situated near Narwal byepass road and lies under the Bahu Conservation Reserve.
The decision to shift J&K High Court to this eco sensitive area of the city, without looking at its perils is a very narrow sighted vision. More than 38000 trees will be axed, which will have direct impact on the lives of thousands of the creatures inhabiting the region.
This area is home to many endangered species of animals and birds like green peafowl, porucupine, wild boars, rabbits, snakes and bears among others.
Leopard a schedule 1 animal also makes its habitat here. Apart from the rich flora and fauna, these forests are very important for maintaining the climate of the city. They provide fresh air and also showers cool breeze in summers.
The indifference we are reflecting towards the nature will have worse consequences. There are some visible signs of the climate change which we are witnessing these days. Urbanisation is catching pace but this must not be at the cost of nature. India has lost over 1.6 million hectare of tree cover between 2001 and 2018, which is about four times the geographical area of Goa (world resource institute).
Injudicious use of land for infrastructure has lethal implications. Every year we see the devastations of the floods, landslides, cyclones and still are not learnings from them. The recent Uttrakhand glacier burst is also supposed to be the result of continuous building of infrastructure on eco sensitive regions.
Jammu Kashmir has also seen a flood back in 2014 and the pace at which deforestation is happening here can have worse consequences in future.
Already many acres of forest land has been used for the development of the institution like Central University of Jammu, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in the past decade and forest land have also been identified for Indian institute of management. Now the decision to shift to high court to Raika forest area is another blow to the biodiversity of the region.
These forests are lungs of jammu city which should be protected at any cost. Administration should find an alternative land for the proposal and set up an example to save the environment, otherwise the day would not be far when we will be inhaling dangerous gases like the rest of the metro cities of the country.
Writer of this article, Shubham Sharma is a student of Journalism in Central University of Jammu