GILGIT: Gilgit-Baltistan Assembly Opposition Leader Amjad Hussain Advocate voiced concerns about the government’s decision to set up two national parks in GB without securing local people’s interests over their natural resources.
During the upcoming assembly session, he said the problem will be raised.
Mr Hussain said the recent decision to build the Himalaya National Park covering 1,989 square kilometres in Diamer and the Nanga Parbat National Park covering 1,196 square kilometres in Astore and Diamer without creating a system to secure the rights of local people and without trusting GB members would be powerful.
In GB, the opposition leader said people relied on their land to make a living by farming and rearing livestock. He said that once the national parks were created, people would not be able either to develop houses or to carry out any cultivation on their property.
“Under the decision, national park residents can not use herbal products or cut firewood,” he added.
“In the name of tourism promotion through external investors in the national park regions, we fear haphazard buildings,” the opposition leader pointed out.
Amjad Hussain challenged the fate of hundreds of local people working in the wildlife department under the idea of cooperative protection to protect forests and wildlife at a paltry Rs1,500 per month.
He said there was no process for successfully making community conservation efficient and regularising the services of the wildlife department personnel.
He said indigenous people had the primary right to their natural resources under foreign treaties, but the move would deprive GB individuals of the economic benefits of natural resources.
In the name of state property, the GB people have already been stripped of their commercial and agricultural lands, and now after the national parks were set up they will lose pastures.
The opposition leader said the federal government was focusing on GB’s natural resources, but never securing the interests of the people.
He said the PPP had begun a campaign to uphold local people’s interests.