To mark the World Biological Diversity Day-2015, National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) in association with State Biodiversity Board (SBB), organized an impressive programme with a theme “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” at SKICC, here today.
Minister for Forest, Ecological & Environment, Bali Bhagat was chief guest on the occasion.
Several dignitaries from India and abroad including, Mr. Hem Pande, Chairman, NBA, Mr. Edgar Endrukaitis, Director, Indo-German Biodiversity Programme, Mr. Jaco Cilliers, Country Director (UNDP), Mr. Rabi Kumar, Secretary, NBA, Mr. Khurshid Ganai, Financial Commissioner Industries, Mr. R.K. Gupta, Principal Secretary Forest, Mr. R. Mukundan, Chairman, India Business and Biodiversity Initiative, Mr. A.K.Singh, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest , Mr. U. Pachnanda, Member-Secretary, SSB, heads of all the wings of Forest Department , delegates of UNDP, scholars, scientists of SKUAST, Kashmir/Jammu, intellectuals, heads of NGOs, teachers and students of several schools of Kashmir Valley participated in the programme.
Expressing his gratitude to the Union Government for selecting the Jammu and Kashmir for organizing this important event, the Minister said that the effort will go a long way in disseminating the message among the masses about the conservation of diversity of natural resources in the country in general and Jammu and Kashmir in particular. He hailed the organizers for rightly choosing the theme “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” and said that country has great challenge to save its diversity and this can be achieved with the coordinated efforts with the active involvement of all stakeholders. He said need of the hour was to generate greater awareness among every individual so that he/she rise above the petty interests and help in conserving the natural resources with a missionary spirit to save the coming generations.
Amid thunderous applaud, the Minister gave his message to the local audience in Kashmiri language saying that “time has come when we all have to make serious efforts to save our natural resources like forests, water bodies, environment and fauna & flora, adding that impact of ruthless cutting of forests, encroachments of various water bodies and faulty housing planning has cautioned us with devastating floods, untimely rains and global warming”. He called upon the teachers, school children to take a pledge to serve as ambassadors and spread the message of saving the diversity for secure and prosperous tomorrow. He said, only government efforts are not sufficient to deal with the issue, but entire society has to contribute for this noble cause to achieve the common goal.
Referring to the encroachment of huge chunk of forest land in the State, Mr. Bhagat said that Government has launched a massive state-wide campaign to retrieve the encroached land from the possession of the defaulters. He said within a short span of time of two months, over 2000 kanals of land has been retrieved and action under law has been initiated against the defaulters. He said “forests are our lifeline and invaluable wealth, and their protection is his personal responsibility and, he will save them like a vigilant watchman”. He sought people’s support in this task and asked for reporting any encroachment of forest land, green felling or timber smuggling to his notice so that the government assets are protected properly.
Highlighting the importance of the day, the Minister said that aim and objective are very clear and sacred, and initiatives need to be translated into reality on ground. He said entire world is concerned about the environment degradation and global warming due to growing pollution through different means; a well-knit strategy has to be adopted to tackle this serious issue. The intellectuals, scientists and credible NGOs have greater role to play in this field, besides the Governments to support them for achieving the tangible results, said the Minister.
Chairman, NBA, Mr. Hem Pande in his address explained the aim and objective of the day and said that as many as 194 countries are part of the United Nation amalgam and are striving for conservation of biodiversity in a world-wide campaign. He stressed the need for stepping up awareness campaign at the grass root level to educate every individual to make an attitudinal change in the mindset of people. He said biodiversity is a subject with which every-one is associated and equally concern about the impact of ecological imbalance; therefore efforts are needed to involve all stakeholders in the noble cause.
Appreciating the rich fauna and flora of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Pande said that the State has been blessed with numerous natural resources and need of the hour was to protect them. He assured all support to the State Government from the NBA to initiate measures to protect the diversity of the state. He announced Rs. 20 lakh to the State Diversity Board for carrying out the awareness campaign. He also expressed his gratitude to all the participants and State Government for extending all support in organizing the event.
On the occasion, a message from the Union Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar was read out to the audience on the subject. He has also appealed to all to work together for saving the biodiversity for the future generations.
Several speakers spoke on the occasion and highlighted the importance of the day and suggested several measures to preserve the natural resources and biodiversity. They expressed concern over the growing volume of pollution through different forms resulting into environment hazards. They called for collective efforts to protect the natural resources.
The Minister gave away prizes to the students who were judged best in different competitions organized by the SDB on the subject. He also gave mementoes to the participants.