Describing forest as nature’s great gift, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called for framing a policy and involving people to conserve forest wealth in the state. “A policy paper should be framed on rejuvenating our forest wealth. The people’s participation should be central to the efforts of the government in saving our green gold”, Sayeed said addressing a high level meeting in Srinagar. The Chief Minister also asked the department to prepare a comprehensive plan with focus on public-private partnership for forest conservation.
“We can approach the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for funding of this project”, he said. Placing high priority on regeneration of forests, the Chief Minister noted with concern the rampant denudation of the forest areas. “The Forest Department has to launch massive plantation drives to address the serious issue”, he said, while stressing upon cutting down such species of poplar trees which adversely affect the health of the people.
Sayeed asked the department to work in a mission mode so as to change the common perception about the functioning of the department. An official spokesman said it was informed in the meeting that Social Forestry Department would, in the first instance, start afforestation drives from Khiram to Budroo in Kashmir and Kathua to Sarthal in Jammu division on a grand scale, over an area spread over 1,470 hectares.
On the issue of potential of the state in commercial propagation of medicinal plants, the department has prepared a project worth Rs 12 crore, with sites identified in Jammu, Kathua, Nowshera and Poonch in Jammu division and Anantnag, Lidder, Langate and Pir Panjal in Kashmir, where variety of species of medicinal plants can be grown on a commercial basis.
Putting the onus of developing eco-tourist sites on the Forest Department, the Chief Minister suggested dovetailing the efforts of the Forest Department with that of the Tourism Development Authorities to obtain optimum results. The Chief Minister was informed that the Forest Department has identified four pilot projects each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions that will be developed as potential eco-tourist destinations in the state.
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