JAMMU, Apr 19:Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment, Choudhary Lal Singh today convened two separate meetings to review the functioning of Department of Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) and Social Forestry Department (SFD) of Jammu province at Forest Information Centre, Gandhi Nagar.
Director SWC Ravi Kumar Kesar, Director Social Forestry, Suresh Chugh, Regional Director, Social Forestry, Roop Avtar Kour besides Divisional Forest Officers of SFD, SWC and other officers were present on the occasion.
While taking review of the Soil and Water Conservation (SWC) department, Minister said that the department has been tasked with a very important role to conserve natural resources of the State.
Referring to constant degradation of environment due to negative interferences including pollution, deforestation, unplanned construction and other developmental activities, Choudhary Lal Singh said that department should come up with some concrete and innovative ideas to deal with such issues.
He urged executing agencies to ensure that necessary protection works are taken up while undertaking developmental activities like roads, power projects, railway and other allied works.
Earlier, Director SWC Ravi Kesar briefed the Minister about the achievements and initiatives taken to prevent soil erosion, floods and conserve water and other natural resources across the State.
While discussing the functioning of Social Forestry Department (SWD), the Minister directed to conduct demarcation of forest land in a transparent manner.
Stating that encroachment will not be tolerated at any cost, Choudhary Lal Singh stressed on formulation of a proper demarcation plan involving greater vigil, proper fencing methodology and involvement of locals. He also called for undertaking computerization of forest land records for proper upkeep of the available resources.
The Minister was informed about the incidents of forest fires reported from Jammu division and the steps initiated to check it by roping in district administration, Forest Protection Force and Social Forestry department.
Underscoring the need for close monitoring of on-going developmental projects taken up for holistic development and protection of State’s rich fauna and flora, Choudhary Lal Singh stressed upon the concerned heads of various wings to perform frequent field visits to monitor projects.
Choudhary Lal Singh also directed SFD to carry out plantation drive along roads, river banks, canals, railway lines besides development of forest lands, wastelands, wetlands and other common lands. He instructed to raise village wood lot, rehabilitation of degraded forests, farm forestry and institutional plantations.
The Minister directed to prepare inventory of plants after planting saplings in schools, colleges, road side, along canals and river banks. He directed to distribute plants to the farmers for planting in their own proprietary lands.
Director Social Forestry, Suresh Chugh informed the Minister that during the year 2015-16, there is an annual plan allocation under the State sector of Rs. 326.45 lakh for covering an area of 412 hectares of land and planting 11.68 lakh trees of which 7 lakh plants have been distributed under Farm Forestry.