Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta stresses on protection of forest lands and livelihoods from forests
Jammu : Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta today chaired the 22nd meeting of the Steering Committee of J&K Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to review the implementation of Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) for FY 2022-23 and to consider the APOs for FY 2023-24.
Administrative Secretaries of Departments of Forests; Rural Development & Panchayati Raj; Revenue; Tribal Affairs; Planning; Secretary in Agriculture Production and Farmers Welfare participated besides many senior officers and HoDs from the Forest Department.
Some of the officers participated in the meeting through video conferencing. The Chief Secretary directed the Forest Department to complete digitalization of boundaries of all forests of Jammu & Kashmir within a year.
He directed constitution of joint teams comprising officers from Revenue, Forest, Tourism, RDD, PRI representatives and other stakeholders concerned to facilitate this process.
He enjoined upon them to utilize the latest technology like CORS and GIS in culminating the process scientifically in a time-bound manner. He also underscored the need of fixing boundary pillars demarcating the forest land in the shortest possible time to ensure protection of forest land from encroachment.
Dr Mehta also came up with a concept for utilization of biomass from forests, like lantana and pine needles with the involvement of Self Help Groups. While creating sustainable livelihood for communities living around forests, it will also be helpful in removal of potential fire hazards like pine needles and other inflammatory materials.
The Chief Secretary stressed on involvement of Panchayats in all afforestation works. Meeting the demands of the forest dependent communities for water, fodder and non-timber forest produce should be main objective of all afforestation works.
This will ensure that they become willing partner in protection and conservation of forests, he added. While reviewing the work proposals relating to Gharana Wetland reserve, the Chief Secretary directed the Wildlife Protection Department to make it one of the most important tourist attractions of Jammu.
He directed that a comprehensive study should be carried out about the habitat and avifauna of Gharana Wetland for its better protection and development. He also emphasized on making arrangements for dissemination of information with visitors and nature lovers so that the visits happen to be a source of infotainment.
He told them to look into the potential of developing as a cluster with Border village of Schetgarh so that both are offered as package to the visitors. PCCF (HoFF), Dr. Mohit Gera apprised the Committee about the main activities of the Department.
Under “Green Jammu and Kashmir Drive”, a record number of plants are being planted with the people’s participation under the campaign “Har Gaon Hariyali”. In the current year, against the target of 1.35 crore, department is making all efforts to plant 1.50 crore, of which about 0.90 crore plants have already been planted.
He also informed about the initiatives taken to protect the forest areas through digitalization of boundaries involving Forest (Territorial) and Settlement and Demarcation Divisions and preparation of digital maps.
CEO, J&K CAMPA, Sarvesh Rai made a detailed presentation covering actions taken on the decisions of the Committee in its last meeting, progress of implementation of the approved APO of 2022-23 and proposed APOs for the financial year 2023-24.
He informed that against the current year’s target of rehabilitation of degraded forests of 15000 ha area, 8108 ha with planting of 59.70 Lakh plants have already been covered. Winter planting in temperate zone is in progress and targets for the year are likely to be achieved in full.
The meeting was informed that the APOs of FY 2023-24 envisage afforestation of 13,719 ha area through assisted natural and artificial regeneration with planting of about 90.00 lakh plants.
APOs also include proposals for eco-restoration of ecologically sensitive areas like Patnitop-Nathatop and areas with southern slopes etc. Later on the Chief Secretary released publications titled “Har Gaon Hariyali under Green Jammu & Kashmir Drive” and “Digitization of Forests: Strengthening of Forest Protection and Management” by Forest Department, “Pollinators: Nature’s Miracle Workers” by J&K Biodiversity Council, and “Key Wildlife Species: Kishtwar High Altitude National Park” by Wildlife Protection Department.
After detailed deliberations on all aspects of the proposals, the Committee approved APOs for next financial year 2023-24 with an outlay of Rs274.00 Cr for its submission to the National Authority, (MoEF&CC), Government of India for their final approval.