House passes Grants of Forest, allied deptts
JK has 20230 km forest area, 1230 water bodies; Green corridors, rejuvenated eco-tourism destinations to be setup
Govt aiming to create annual stock of 15 cr saplings
JAMMU, JANUARY 21: Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology, Choudhary Lal Singh today said the innovative measures initiated by the government would take forest and its allied wings to new heights and it will also bring positive transformation on the ground in increasing forest cover and conserving the ecology of the state. He said over 2801.23 hectares of forest land of total recorded encroachment of 14345 hectares has been retrieved during nearly three years, he added.
Winding up the discussion in the Legislative Assembly on Demands for Grants of Forest Department including Ecology, Environment and Pollution Control Board, the Minister said several measures have been taken to make functioning of the department accountable, transparent and result-oriented.
Enumerating the initiatives launched by the Government, the Minister said department has embarked on many new programmes, including establishment of hi-tech nurseries and upgradation of existing nurseries for production of quality planting stocks with a vision of raising 15 crore saplings annually. He said DPR for beautification of National Highway (NH1-A/), railway line through plantations, creation of green corridors, plantation around Ranjit Sagar, Baglihar Dams and other water bodies have also been formulated.
He also informed the House that promotion of rotational grazing and eco-tourism, nature tourism is a priority for the Government. He said the government won’t allow breach of the forest rights of tribal communities and called for active contribution of such communities in conservation of forests. He also said plantation of fruit trees amidst forest plantations would reduce man-animal conflict.
The Minister said that conservation of Wullar Lake besides, many other lakes and water bodies in the State is the topmost priority of the Government.
He said that as per a study conducted by Directorate of Ecology & Environment, a total of 1230 big and small lakes and water bodies exist in the State of J&K with 425 in Kashmir province, 150 in Jammu and 665 in Ladakh region.
For conservation of Asia’s fresh water Wullar Lake, he said Wullar Conservation and Management Authority (WuCMA) has been created. He said the Government mulls 34.58 km completely eco-friendly Boulevard project at a cost of Rs 700 crore to revamp Wullar lake. He said that perimeter of Wullar is 83.6 km; the proposed Wullar Boulevard project will begin from Garoora to Sopore, covering around 34.58 km of its periphery.
Informing about the progress on de-silting operations, the Minister said that work is underway under the comprehensive Wullar Conservation and Management Plan (WCMP) to increase the water holding capacity of the lake. He also informed that entire periphery of the lake had been demarcated as per authentic revenue records which indicates lake area of 130 sq kms.
“As many as 1,159 geo-tagged boundary pillars have been erected delineating the lake boundary from the adjoining areas,” he added.
Giving details about the forest land encroachment, Singh said that Government has devised a plan for fencing the forest areas.”We need estimated Rs 8000 crore for conservation of forest resources including fencing, but with the current resources we will start fencing around the areas which are vulnerable for encroachments” he added.
The Minister said that according to Working Plan, Jammu and Kashmir has 20230 km forest area covering 19.95 per cent geographical area the State and the department has taken strict measures to remove encroachment from the forest area as part of its drive against the encroachment. Over 2801.23 hectares of forest land of total recorded encroachment of 14345 hectares has been retrieved during nearly three years, he added.
Elaborating further, the Minister said that in addition, Forest Department has also retrieved 2903.65 hectares unrecorded/freshly encroached land across Jammu region and 205 hectares in Jammu city and its outskirts, in last 2 years.
On timber distribution, he said that all depots of SFC have been asked to provide hassle-free timber to people. He said that SFC has succeeded in extracting 36.10 lakh cfts of timber and has transported 24.00 lakh cfts to its Sale Depots during 2016-17 upto ending December 2016 “SFC has sold 14.22 lakh cfts of timber and revenue realized is Rs 7923.99 lakh. Besides, SFC has generated revenue of Rs 125396200 in shape of VAT/TDS,” he said.
The Minister informed that a Draft Policy for Chief Minister’s participatory forest development and usufructs sharing has been submitted to the administrative department for the approval. He said the draft policy aims at carrying out afforestation and other forest development works in the forest fringe areas with the active involvement of the local people.
On the promotion of eco-Tourism, the Minister said Government aims to promote tourism in the areas having natural beauty without disturbing the environment and ecological balance of the area. Since, many sites of tourism interest fall in Forest areas of the state, undertaking eco-tourism activities in such areas will provide livelihood opportunities to the locals besides, ensuring minimum or no disturbance to the forest eco-systems. The sites include Bangus Valley, Bojpathri, Tosamaidan, Daksum, Pahalgam, Warwan, Sukrala and Machedi (Billawar).
The Minister said that Government is doing every bit to retrieve the original habitation Hangul and steps are underway to shift the Sheep Breeding Farm from the Dachigam National Park.
The Minister informed that State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) has established 24 nurseries in the State with a potential of production of 70 lakh quality plants every year. He said SFRI has supplied 5.085 lakh quality plants of different species to various wings of Forest Department and other agencies during the year 2016-17 (upto 15-01-2017). He said that SFRI has established state of art field research station at Haran, Ganderbal. One such station is being developed each at Nubra Leh and Gujroo, Nagrota (Billawar) Kathua.
On its futuristic targets, the SFRI targets to establish 10 new model nurseries each in Jammu and Kashmir regions for quality plant production to the tune of 5 crore quality seedlings with 30 percent of fruit yielding plants, 10 percent medicinal plants and 10 percent ornamental plants. The nursery shall be augmented with all facilities like, mist chambers, poly carbon houses, green houses, hardening chambers, vermi composite units, permanent water sources through bore wells/ check dams/ sump tanks etc. subject to availability of funds.
The Minister informed the House that Government is in a process to establishing two zoos – one each in Jammu and Kashmir. Whereas land has already been identified near Nagrota for setting up Jammu Zoo, Kashmir Zoo is being proposed to be established at Pahalgam.
On Soil and Water Conservation, the Minister said Department has started implementing schemes like Artificial Recharge of Ground Water (ARGW) funded by Central Ground Water Board, Ministry of Water Resources, Govt. of India. The Department has been formulating project reports for implementation for treatment of catchment areas of various power projects like Baglihar, Kishenganga, Pakul Dul, Uri and Rattle.
The members who participated in the debate include Shah Mohammad Tantray ,Hakeem Mohammad Yaseen, Usman Abdul Majid , Choudhary Sukhnandan Kumar , Mohammad Akbar Lone , Raja Manzoor Ahmad , Dina Nath Bhagat , Bashir Ahmad Dar , M. Y Tarigami , Jewan Lal , Vikar Rasool Wani , Pawan Kumar Gupta , Shamim Firdous, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari, Gulzar Ahmad Wani, Devinder Kumar Manyal, Mumtaz Ahmad Khan, Abdul Majid Padder , Javid Ahmad Rana, Ravinder Raina, Abdul Rahim , Abdul Majid Larmi Mubarak Gul and Altaf Ahmed Wani.
The cut motions which were moved by the members were withdrawn after the satisfactory reply by the Minister.
Later, the House passed the grants of Forest, Ecology & Environment, for the year 2017-18, moved by the Minister, amounting to Rs 83837.86 lakh with voice vote.