SRINAGAR, JUNE 07: Minster for Forest, Environment and Ecology, Chaudhary Lal Singh today said that Government is working on a compressive plan for forest conservation, protection of wildlife and promotion of eco-tourism in the State.
Winding up the discussion on the Demand of Grants for Forest, Wildlife, Ecology and Environment Departments in the House, Mr Singh said that there was a dearth of funds in the Department; however the Government is working to make a comprehensive plan for the revival of the Department. He said that government would submit a compressive proposal to the Union Forest Ministry for approval of funds under different schemes to give the new imputes to the States; green gold besides protection of rich animal species and eco tourism.
“If we have to save our forests, we need to pitch for more funds and grants from the Centre and State,” Mr Singh said.
“There is a lot to be done to revamp the Department,” he added. He urged members to work in close coordination for saving the forests and strengthening the department.
Mr Singh said that the Demarcation of forests was a biggest challenge for the Department. He said that procuring the demarcation poles were incurring huge amount of money to the Department.
“If we really want to protect the forests and our wildlife, we all have to be together. We have to join hands for a greater cause,” Mr Singh said while delivering his speech here. He said “If you take any department which is prone to encroachment, one would face an outcry from the people or the stakeholders. But as far as the Forests are concerned how would you make forest to talk, wildlife to hold protest. That is to be pondered,” he said.
Mr Singh said that Government was tirelessly working to strengthen State Forest Corporation (SFC) which would revitalize the Forest Department.
“We all have to work for making SFC a real example in the Corporations. It is waiting for a great relief from the officials,” Mr Singh said. “We should make sure that the SFC gets its life back.” He said that SFC was meant to give boost to the whole forest department with its innovative methods. Mr Singh said that revamping of the corporation was “highest priority” for him.
“This would not only add to the overall functioning of the forest department but it would generate huge profit for the government,” he said.
Mr Singh said that he has directed officials to make the auction of timber for people four times in a month. He said that the committees should be formed who would ensure that the work was carried out on fast-track basis.
“The timber and other necessary items from the Forest Department should be readily available for people across the State,” he said. “This department needs a lot of innovative work on all the fronts. From conservation to the supplies,” he said.
The Minister said Government has launched a scathing attack on the encroachers who have been destroying the precious forest land.
“We won’t allow anyone to encroach into the forest land,” Singh said. He said that the place was vital habitation for the Hangul and disturbing it won’t be tolerated at any cost. He said that protecting Hangul and its habitation was highest priority for the government.
The Minister informed the legislators during an ongoing Budget session that for preservation and safety of Hangul, the Government has submitted a project report of Rs. 25.72 crore to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for approval.
The Minister said that the J&K has 20230.00 kms Forest area by latest Working Plan, covering 19.95 per centage to Geographical Area. Mr Singh informed that at present, Department is proving direct employment to 21, 760 persons. He informed that during the year 2015-16, Department supplied 17.53 lac cft of timber to people in the state through Timber Sale Depot. (TSD).
The Minister said that an amount of Rs. 4.02 crore and 2.77 crore (6.795 crore) for the year 2014-15 and 2015-16 respectively is yet to be received from the government on account of differential cost of timber for supply of 7.25 lakh cft of timber to flood victims of 2014 floods.
He said besides this the department has also supplied timber to the people living in fringe forest areas to the tune of 6.54 lakh cft directly from the forests under during the same period. He also said due to the imported timber amounting 47.12 lakh cft by private players in 2015-16, significant pressure on natural forest has been reduced. He informed that the firewood during the year, 2015-16 a total of 1,58,170 Quintals of firewood was supplied on very subsidised rate (Rs.247/Quintal) for local/ religious purposes with a subsidy element of Rs. 8.70 crore.
The Minister informed that vigorous efforts have been taken to evict the encroachers from forest land. He said that in April-2016 an area of 65.34 ha (1872 kanals) have been evicted. The Minister said that a total of 1,160 land diversion cases were cleared involving diversion of 11,841 ha (236820 kanal) of forestland as on 30th April 2016 and felling of 8, 78,998 forest trees. The Minister also gave a detailed account of the outstanding amount with intending agencies. The CAMPA works has also facilitated creation of supportive infrastructure, establishment of 144 nurseries and raised 349.29 lakh saplings over 31303 ha of forest/ other lands which also include more than 75 lakh conifer saplings,” he added.
The Minister said the Department of Wildlife is managing five National Parks (NP), 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 37 conservation reserves spread over more than 16000 hectares of area. He said that in order to woo tourists from across the globe, the Department of Forests has initiated a promotion scheme for eco-tourism.
He said that a Promotion for Eco-Tourism Policy stands drafted by the department to encourage people to visit forest and wilderness areas.
He informed that that the Department many Forest Rest Houses (FRH), Inspection Huts are functional which are being contemplated for extending eco-tourism activities across the State.
Later, the House passed the grants of Forest, Ecology and Environment, for the year 2016-17, which were moved by the Minister, amounting to Rs 787.19 crore voice vote.
The members who took part in the discussion on demand of grants including Ab Majid Padder, Dina Nath, Mohammad Shafi Uri, Usman Majeed, M. Y. Tarigami, Hakeem Yasin, Mohd Akbar Lone, Rajesh Gupta, Ch. Qamar Hussain, Mubarak Gul, Aijaz Ahmed Khan, Bashir Ahmad Dar,
Abdul Rahim Rather, Sat Paul Sharma, Pawan Kumar, Sukhnandan Choudhary, Mohd Khalid Band, G. M. Saroori, Daleep Singh Parihar, Yawar Ahmed Mir, Javaid Ahmed Raina, Nawang Rigzin Jora, Raja Manzoor, Jeevan Lal, Mohammed Ashraf Mir, Altaf Ahmad Wani, Kamal Verma and Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari.
The members, who moved the Cut Motions on the Grants, withdrew after the satisfactory reply from the Minister.