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SRINAGAR: Workers hired by Jammu and Kashmir Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to remove water Lilies from Dal Lake on Tuesday complained that deweeding with machines is a wastage of time and money as they fail to remove them by roots, which if left there grow again. “These machines are futile. They cannot reach the roots of the Water Lilies and instead cut them from the top, leaving the roots there,” said a worker. He likened the deweeding machines to ‘trimmers’ saying it serves no purpose if roots are left intact at the bottom of the Lake.

 

In a demonstration, a ‘Mate’ at the deweeding site near Ghat 22 who showed the  the Kashmir News Bureau crew  around, brought other workers together and showed how better tools they had compared to the machine. “We are the locals and we have grown up on the waters of Dal Lake. We know full well how to get rid of the Water Lilies,” the Mate said, wishing anonymity. “But we can only do that if government is willing to listen to us. If we do it manually with the tools we have, we will clear the lake of all Lilies. Yes, it will take time,” he added.

 

The other workers at the site in their boats loaded with the trimmed weed and water lilies also voiced their concern. “We are paid a pittance. An amount of rupees 450 is not enough at all. Will we buy food, clothes, or pay children’s school fee with this?” asked another worker standing at the stern of his boat.

 

Speaking to Kashmir News Bureau, Vice Chairman J and K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, Dr. Abdul Hafiz Shah (KAS) said, “The deweeding process is going on both mechanically and manually.  This is true that machines cannot remove along with the roots. However, whenever we remove water lilies, generally manually, we uproot them so that they do not grow again.

The Vice Chairman about the removal of weeds said, “ Weeds are part of  the Dal Lake so they cannot be uprooted. They function as the breathing lungs for the lake.  The requirement is, from the aesthetic point of view,  to clear them from the surface”. “Last year, we started a major operation and have had good results. This year, we have only 20 percent of Lilies in the area which was manually cleared a year before. And that 20 percent too will be cleared soon,” Shah said.

 

When asked about the wages of the workers, he said, “When I took over as Vice Chairman last year, I spoke individually to all the workers and was told that because of the mate system in place back then, a worker would only get Rs. 180 to 200 only, and that too not on time. No sooner I took over, I removed the mate system and increased the wages to Rs. 450. If still workers demand that their wages be increased, I will put forward the same before the authority and implement whatever the decision is taken”.

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SHOPIAN: The District Administration Shopian launched a mega anti-encroachment drive to remove illegal constructions in the district. The massive anti-encroachment drive was led by concerned Tehsildars, consisting of various different teams in different areas of the district. During the drive, in first phase, about 228 Kanals of Kahcharari/state land were retrieved from the encroachers from the areas Keegam, Barbugh, Shopian, Chitragam, Herman, Keller and Zainapora.

The District Development Commissioner Shopian, Owais Ahmed said that the drive for removing encroachments would continue in the other encroached areas till the whole encroached land is retrieved. The district administration has advised the people particularly those residing along the Mughal Raod, highway and banks of rivers, to remove encroachments on their own otherwise strict action would be initiated against them.

All the Tehsildars were asked to immediately bring any incidence of encroachments into the notice of District Administration. The Tehsildars of the district were directed for assessment, and submission of village wise list of the Kahcharari/state land and illegal constructions made on the river banks and nallahs  with photographic evidence.

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SRINAGAR: Forest Department and Forest Protection Force personnel carried out joint night operations in Najwan forests of Sindh Forest  Range during which nakas were laid at various places. At one such Naka near Najwan crossing, a Maruti car was stopped and the lone driver of the car jumped out and ran away taking advantage of the darkness and dense woods. The alert Forest staff along with Forest Protection Force Personnel of Ganderbal Gamma Unit seized Maruti 800 Car bearing Registration No 4587 /JKO1E  which was found loaded with illicit timber ( Deodar / sawn) :16.30 cfts ). 

The vehicle along with illicit timber was carted down to safe place. Confiscation proceedings have been initiated in the case and hunt is on to nab the culprit, whose identity is being ascertained. In the wee hours, field staff of Doabgah Range J V Forest Division along with the staff of Kanispora Block and Forest Protection Force staff seized horses loaded with illicit sawn deodar sleepers 12 Nos = 45.09 Cfts. The seized timber was carted down to the safer place. In another incident two horses loaded with illicit timber Fir = 16.87 Cfts seized by Range Officer Romshi Range Shopian Division at Sangerwani. Culprits managed to escape taking advantage of darkness however they have been identified.