Govt mulling fresh policy against timber smuggling

5-member panel for revamping Forest Protection Force, IWDP

Srinagar: The state government is mulling a proactive policy against smuggling of timber and other forest produce. Describing J&K Forest Protection Force (FPF) as a vital tool for protecting the forest wealth in the State, Minister for Forest, Ecology & Environment, Bali Bhagat Wednesday said that the Government will take innovative steps to make the functioning of the organization more affective and result oriented.

While reviewing the functioning of the FPF at a meeting held here, the Minister expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the organization and called upon the officers to adopt a pro-active approach to achieve targets. He said organization has been assigned a sacred task of preserving the State’s major natural resource “Forests”, which is responsible for maintaining the environment and ecology, therefore, all the functionaries have to be more accountable in their profession to achieve the objective.

Calling upon the field functionaries to keep a close vigil on the activities of the timber smugglers and land encroachers, the Minister stressed the need for a well-knit strategy and coordinated approach for better results. He said preserving the State wealth is a collective mandate of all wings of the Forest Department and coordination is must to achieve the tangible results. He appreciated the efforts of the officers for safeguarding the forests at the cost of their comforts and putting their lives at risk some times. He maintained that the Government will acknowledge the good work of the officers and reward them suitably in future. He also assured to bring more reforms in the organization to safeguard the service interests of all categories of the employees. He directed the Director FPF to come up with the details of pending issues that require attention of the Government so that the same are addressed expeditiously.

 Bhagat issued directions to all the field functionaries to highlight their achievements like seizure of smuggled timber, vehicles, retrieving of encroached forest land and arrest of culprits through the medium of print and electronic media for the information of general masses. He also directed for setting up of helpline numbers for the convenience of public as also to receive the feedback about the illegal activities of culprits.

Meanwhile, the Minister has ordered constitution of a 5-member panel of forest officers headed by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to suggest ways and means to rejuvenate the functioning, making optimum use of manpower and addressing allied issues of FPF and IWDP. The Committee shall submit its recommendations to the Government within a period of one month.

Giving resume of the functioning of the organization, Director FPF,  Suresh Gupta informed that since its inception, the FPF has seized over 405244 cft timber, 78567.70 qtls of fire wood, 1424.86 qtls of Minor Forest Produce, 840 number of horses/ponies, 465 number of vehicles used in different unlawful activities, and saved over 3 lakh kanal of forest against fire.  Gupta said that despite limited resources and manpower, the organization has been working relentlessly to save the forest wealth and keeping vigil round the clock to thwart the design of the unscrupulous persons. He highlighted some issues related to the betterment of the organization and requested for addressing the same expeditiously.

All district officers of Kashmir Valley were present in the meeting.

Earlier, on reaching the venue, the contingents of FPF presented guard of honor to the Minister.

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