Tosamaidan: The 83-day-long operation 'Falah' to clear the firing range in this famous meadow of central Kashmir concluded today with the army saying that it has totally demined the 69-sq.Km area.
"The initiative to clear the Tosamaidan field firing range of the unexploded bombs and other dangerous objects came to a conclusion after 83 days and 10,000 man-hours. We can confidently say now that we have kept our promise made to the people of clearing the field," said Lt Gen Subrata Saha, Corps Commander of the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps.
Tosamaidan, also known as the 'king of meadows', is situated in the Pir Panjal range in Budgam district. It was at the centre of a controversy when locals demanded the shifting out of the firing range following the expiry of the lease in April this year.
Several protest demonstrations were held across the Valley in support of the demand for the army to leave Tosamaidan with locals having suffered many casualties here over the years due to littered shells in the area.
Saha said the army used hi-tech equipment to clear the impact and periphery areas of the range even as it faced a lot of difficulties in sweeping the area due to its terrain.
"For about 24 days, we had rainfall and snowfall here. It was one of the biggest drives undertaken by the army and was supported by the locals and the civil administration," he said.
Saha said that although the area has been completely cleared of dangerous material, if any suspicious object is found there, the locals should report the matter to the army.
The army had given financial assistance of Rs 1 lakh to the family of one Bilal Ahmad Parray, who lost his life in a shell explosion here on July 16. The cheque was presented to the family of the deceased by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
Apart from clearing Tosamaidan, army has given medical treatment to more than 3,000 patients at medical camps in the area and has also treated about 9,000 animals for various diseases.
It has also taken the responsibility for providing assistance and treatment to Fayaz Parrey, who was injured in an explosion caused by a littered shell, Saha said.
Sports events and education tours to the Tosamaidan area were also organised by the army. The army is also holding pre- recruitment training of 47 young boys with a view to guiding them to take the recruitment test for entry into the security forces.
As part of an employment drive, a mobile phone repairing course is being conducted at the Community Development Centre at Khag for 30 youths, the Army added.
A survey of widows due to firing range accidents has also been carried out and the list was ratified by the District Development Commissioner, Budgam.
A jute bag-making course for 30 women is being run by army besides training for 20 women in tailoring, stitching and designing, it said, adding that 50 students from the Gujjar and Bakerwal communities are being provided schooling.
The chief minister, while lauding the initiatives taken by the army for the benefit of the civilian population, expressed hope that the security forces would continue to provide necessary help to the people in their day-to-day life.