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Sheep Farmers Struggle as Forest Department Bars Grazing Access

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SRINAGAR: Sheep farmers in Srinagar are facing a dire situation as the forest department has begun restricting access to grazing lands by erecting closures and fences around the traditional grasslands.

In the Nishat area of Srinagar, home to more than 250 sheep farming families, forest department officials have cordoned off vast stretches of land previously used for generations for sheep grazing.

The lower reaches of the Zabarwan mountains in Nishat have been closed off by the forest department for the construction of a park called Chinar Bagh, adjacent to Nishat Bagh.

Residents of Nishat, who rely on these lands for their livelihoods, lament that the forest department has seized control of the grazing lands, erecting fences to facilitate park construction.

Despite being recognized as Kahcharai (grazing land) in revenue records, the area near Nishat has been taken over by the forest department for urban forestation. Locals allege that a fenced park has replaced the traditional grazing grounds.

Residents express frustration, seeing this move as a deliberate attempt to increase unemployment and deprive them of their means of livelihood.

The forest department’s actions have caused significant hardship for sheep farmers on the outskirts of Srinagar, with restricted access to grazing lands leading to farm closures and sheep migration to other areas.

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