Sunday, 28 August 2011


Landslide due to mortar shelling in Askot sanctuary - Click on image to enlarge
Massive firing and shelling of mortars regularly take place at Tijam, near Sobala, conducted by a  transit army
camp as a part of 'training and firing practice'. The hard fact is that this activity is done from the camp which is at a higher location of the village towards the Askote Wildlife sanctuary area on the other side of the Umchiya gad in district Pithoragarh of Uttarakhand, India. The villagers of Tijam had earlier requested to re-establish the old lake, which had drained off after a massive flash flood. This drained lake area is the only path to go across to the village Batan. The firing activity by the army has made this journey dangerous and the villagers are also being harassed by the army. The villagers thought that by making the lake, this area would be not available for the army for firing. Moreover, the firing of mortars using rocket launchers across the river has also caused landslides across the river in the main sanctuary area. During a recent visit by the DFO, Pithoragarh, Mr.Thirugnanasambandham IFS to check the feasibility of the rejuvenation of the lake (as declared by the Chief Minister), he found that the reason the villagers were pressing for the lake was actually to curb the above activity. When asked about the massive landslide in the sanctuary, the villagers told him that it was a result of firing of mortars by the army. Several wild animals like Himalayan Black bear, musk deer, leopards, ghorals, barking deer, etc. are also disturbed by this regular firing. The DFO has promised to issue strict orders to prevent the army from doing any firing activity within or near the sanctuary area and not to use the dried lake area as a firing ground anymore. The earlier DFO, Mr.Ram Gopal had also issued letters to the army asking them not to use any forest area for firing and war practice.

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