Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Wednesday directed Deputy Commissioner Kupwara to physically inspect the spots and close down the quarry units if found operational in the forest demarcated areas and produce the status report before the court by next hearing. The division bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Sanjeev Kumar, directed the deputy commissioner while hearing Public Interest Litigation with regard to the closure and stopping of illegal stone quarrying in forest demarcated areas and on state land. A committee was constituted last year by pollution control board on stone quarrying in the region, which had submitted its report. While illegal quarrying poses threat to the environment and is direct encroachment of areas demarcated for forests, the problem of unregulated stone quarrying and sand mining need to be stopped. In Kashmir division, reports of illegal quarrying and mining have come from north, south as well as districts in central Kashmir. State Pollution Control Board has to be wary of the developments as there have been a slew of reports suggesting an increase in the number of kilns and similar ventures. The fragile environment in Kashmir does not need to be discussed threadbare. Pollution due to unabated use of polythene and plastic in Valley is for all to see. There have been directions, orders and bans, yet the use of banned materials has not ceased. Environmental degradation is a slow process and it takes decades for the effects to show up. But once they emerge the recuperating process takes more time. The state’s forest cover has already been reduced to below the recommended level. Reduced forest cover further threatens the wildlife and has also factored in the growing incidents of man-animal conflict in the state. Kashmir has witnessed some devastating events of flooding, silting and landslides. Yet people as well as governments have been acting like ostrich. Besides forests, we have not even spared the meadows from vandalization. Authorities have failed to enforce laws to safeguard forests, meadows and wetlands in Kashmir, as a result of which the state has lost its green belt. It is time that we step up efforts to protect the environment from further degradation. The intervention of the court, whether it is illegal quarrying, mining or encroachment on the forest cover, is very much needed.