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  • Substantive measures afoot to increase JK’s forest cover, arrest degradation: Lal Singh
  • 2 cr saplings planted in forests, 2.5 lakh along highway
  • Steps taken to declare Tral area Wildlife Sanctuary, Jasrota WLS upgraded, Rs 221 cr earmarked for Jambu, Pahalgam Zoo

HIGHLIGHTS

  • ·       1.35 lakh kanal encroached forest land retrieved upto Dec 2017
  • ·       40000 quality Chinar saplings raised by State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) planted in Jammu Province
  • ·       Hi-tech nurseries established, existing nurseries upgraded with a vision of raising 15 crore saplings annually
  • ·       SFRI established 5 model nurseries having capacity of 50 lakh plant production in each nursery
  • ·       2 crore saplings planted in forests to reforest the degraded forests
  • ·       Rs 10000 crore required for treating 900000 hectares of degraded forest area of JK
  • ·       2.50 lakh saplings planted along National Highway from Lakhanpur to Qazigund by SFD
  • ·       Timber provided to the people to the tune of 556184cfts in 2017-18
  • ·        Field staff provided with Modern fire-fighting equipment to control forest fires
  • ·       Sheep Breeding Farm located within Dachigam National Park shifted
  • ·       Steps taken to declare Tral area as Wildlife Sanctuary, Jasrota WLS being upgraded
  • ·       Jambu Zoo and Pahalgam Zoo to be developed in the State worth Rs 121 cr and Rs 100 cr respectively
  • ·       401 kanals of land in Gharana Wetland Reserve identified & demarcated
  • ·       41 Control Rooms established to effectively deal with human-wild animal conflict
  • ·       98% demarcation of Wullar Lake completed by WCMA
  • ·       Steps taken for habitat management of Black Necked Crane  and Snow Leopard in Ladakh region
  • ·       61 water ponds revived and renovated in kandi belt last year, 63 under renovation
  • ·       423 unemployed forestry graduates/post graduates engaged as Rehber-e-Janglat
  • ·       Department promoted 556 employees 

JAMMU:  Listing achieved targets set for restoration of state’s forest cover, ecological balance and revival of wildlife, the Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology, Choudhary Lal Singh today informed the house that in last one year the department has retrieved around 1.35 lakh kanal encroached forest land, planted 2 Cr saplings to revitalize degraded forests and minimize the human intervention – the root cause of all troubles.  

Winding up the debate on Demand for Grants of the Forest, Ecology, Environment and allied departments, the Minister said development of new nurseries across the state forms the prime among series of initiatives taken to sustain and stabilize JK’s frail environmental ambience. “Establishment of hi-tech nurseries and upgrading of existing ones for production of quality planting stocks with a target  of raising 15 crore saplings annually is a major step forward to increase the annual plantation targets.  He said SFRI has established five model nurseries with a capacity of raising 50 lakh plants each. 

He said state-wide drive carried out last year witnessing plantation of 2 crore saplings on mainland including 30% fruit  bearing species  and 2.5 lakh along the National Highways became possible with untiring efforts of departmental functionaries and cooperation of the local people. Supporting the claims with elaborate statistics, the Minister said as on date out of 20,230 Sq km forest area, about 9000 sq km area is degraded due to the unabated human intervention. He further informed that, 3.82 lakh kanal  of forest area was under encroachment as on April 1, 2016,   of which 1.35 lakh kanal has been retrieved till December 2017. 

Lal Singh said in a first, the department has brought prestigious Chinar to Jammu Province by way of planting around 40,000 saplings raised by State Forest Research Institute Jammu. He said keeping in view the massive mandate of the department including protection and conservation of flora and fauna, the goods and services being provided along with the ecological security of the State, the fund allocation for the forest sector in the State is highly inadequate, which amounts to 0.04 percent of the total state budget. 

Lal Singh said that there is a requirement of around Rs 10,000 crore for treating 9,00,000 hectares of degraded forest area of the State and at the rate of present funding, it will take more than 350 years to rehabilitate the degraded forest area. Under Social Forestry Department, ornamental plantations have been done on National Highway alongside from Lakhanpur to Qazigund by planting 2.50 lakh plants which has been appreciated by all. 

With regard to distribution of timber, the Minister said the forest department issued 556184 cfts timber directly from forests to the families living on the fringes of forests and snowbound areas lacking road connectivity.  “To effectively deal with wild fires and minimize the damage to the forest, the department has provided modern fire-fighting equipment along with fire proof uniform to the field staff to control the blaze. 

He said close coordination among all the wings of the department and quick response thereof, number of forest fire incidents have been drastically reduced during the last two years. Listing major achievement of Wildlife Protection Department, the Minister said that after six decades, the Sheep Breeding Farm located within Dachigam National Park has been shifted thereby restoring 2000 Kanal of land back to the National Park. 

“The restored area is being developed as core habitat for Hangul where about 1 lakh fruit bearing and conifer species have been planted. The Sheep Farm was a major impediment for the Hangul and its breeding”, he said. The department is also considering to declare Tral area as Wildlife Sanctuary for the conservation of Hangul by way of connecting natural corridors on landscape basis, he said adding that Jasrota Wildlife Sanctuary is also being upgraded with renovation of ancient structures and palace, development of ecotourism spots, restoration of historic water bodies, etc while the process of demarcation of notified limits of Protected Areas comprising of National Parks, Wildlife Sanctuaries, Wetlands and Conservation Reserves has been taken up with Revenue Department and other agencies. 

He informed that department is in the process of developing Jambu Zoo and Pahalgam Zoo in the State with an estimate cost of Rs 121 crore and Rs 100 crore respectively. He said 401 kanal of land in Gharana Wetland Reserve has also been identified and demarcated in consultation with the Revenue Department thereby paving the restoration of the wetland. Emphasis has been laid on revival and restoration of wetlands particularly Hokersar, Shallabugh, Hygamand other important wetlands by habitat restorations, water level regulation and soil conservation measures, he informed.  

The incidents of human-wild animal conflicts have shown downward trend as compared to previous years and 41 Control Rooms have been established to effectively deal with such situations, he said. The Minister further stated that 98% demarcation of the Wullar Lake has also been completed by Wullar Conservation and Management Authority and an area of 5 sq km of the lake is further proposed to be dredged out in the 2nd phase for which a project proposal of Rs 424.64 crore has been submitted. 

In Ladakh, various steps have been taken for habitat management of key species including Black Necked Crane (State Bird) and Snow Leopard etc. besides, 4 rescue centres at Poonch, Kathua, Kishtwar and Leh will also be established. With regard to put an effective check on pollution in the state, Lal Singh stated that State Pollution Control Board (SPCB) has taken up effective measures to control the Air pollution arising from the operation of Brick Kilns/Stone Crushers including plantation, metalling and sprinkling of water on approach roads to arrest fugitive dust. 

Soil and Water Conservation department has taken up up-gradation/renovation & restoration of water ponder/ harvesting structures in kandi belt in a phased manner, out of which 61 have been revived and renovated during the last year and 63 are under repair/renovation, Lal Singh said. While talking about the steps taken to strengthen staff strength, he said the department has engaged 423 unemployed forestry graduates/post graduate as “Rehber-e-Janglat” have been regularized so far thus fulfilling the commitment made by the Government during the last Budget Session. 

Besides, the department has also promoted 556 employees by holding regular DPC meetings which include 154 employees of Forest Department, 30 of Wildlife Protection, 35 of SPCB, 100 of Social Forestry, 227 of Forest Protection Force, 5 of SFC and five of Soil and Water Conservation department, he added. Earlier, various members including Usman Majid, Ravinder Raina, Mohammad Khalil Bandh, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Bashir Ahmad Dar,  Pawan Kumar Gupta, Jeevan Lal, Abdul Majid Padder, Sheikh Ishfaq Jabbar, Gulzar Ahmad Wani, Shah Mohammad Tantray, Altaf Ahmad Wani,  Syed Farooq Andrabi, G M Saroori, Shakti Raj Parihar and Abdul Majid Larmi  took part in the discussion and gave valuable inputs for strengthening of the department. Later the House passed the Grants of Rs 79909.69 lakh for Forest, Ecology and Environment Departments.