JAMMU, JULY 21- Minister for Forest, Ecology & Environment and Social Welfare, Bali Bhagat on Tuesday underscored the need to minimize felling of forest trees and carrying out re-plantation/afforestation to compensate against diversion of forest land for development works.
This was stated by the Minister after inaugurating the ‘plantation of sapling’ drive as part of the 66th Vanmahotsava in the premises of Sheri-e Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology (SKUAST-J) organized by Social Forestry Department Jammu here today.
Principal Secretary Forest R. K. Gupta, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest A. K. Singh, Director Social Forestry Arun Kumar, Vice Chancellor SKUAST Jammu Dr. Pradeep K. Sharma, Regional Director Social Forestry Smt. Roop Avtar Kour, Director Environment Suresh Chugh, Chief Wild Life Warden Roshan Lal Jaggi, Director Soil Conservator Ravi Kumar Kesar, DFO Social Forestry Som Dutt Khajuria, besides Senior officers of Forest, Social Forestry and SKUAST were also present on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Bali Bhagat said that arresting environmental degradation together with minimum disturbance to the forest ecology must remain in focus while planning any developmental project in the State.
Stressing on people participation in maintaining ecological balance, Bali Bhagat directed the forest department to undertake reforestation drives on denuded forest land in other part of the State also. “There is urgent need to make people aware about the significance of forests and protecting rich biodiversity”, he stated. He also emphasized upon the social forestry department to undertake awareness campaigns about ecological conservation to save our treasures of nature for posterity.
The Minister lauded the role of the Social Forestry Department in taking up plantations and emphasized that forestry sector is under tremendous pressure due to increasing population and especially in rural areas in respect of fodder, fuel wood and timber. He asked the officers of different wings of the department to work in coordination so that the benefits of different schemes of the Government reach to the local people. He reminded the Social Forestry Department of its responsibilities in increasing the green cover and meeting the genuine requirements of the people especially in rural areas.
The Minister was informed that during the monsoon season the department of Social Forestry shall cover an area of 486.67 ha and plant 4.964 lakh trees. In addition, under Farm Forestry as many as 3 lakh plants shall be distributed to farmers/locals/NGOs/Institutions etc and distribution is under progress.
Earlier, the Minister also planted various medicinal plants in the premises of SKUAST Jammu.
Later, Bali Bhagat also distributed mementos and certificates amongst students who participated in a painting competition organized as part of the programme.
Children from SOS, HG School Jammu and NGO Sewa Bharti presented cultural programme and play on the occasion.