SRINAGAR: As a sequel to the review meeting of the Forest, Ecology & Environment Department, held on July 11, Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, took a firsthand appraisal Thursday on the progress achieved with regard to the issues discussed in the earlier meeting.
The Chief Minister had on July 11 ordered revamp of the Forest Policy to conserve States depleting green wealth by encouraging peoples participation in afforestation drives, identification of eco-tourism destinations and commercial propagation of highly-remunerative medicinal plants.
Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Singh and Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment & Social Welfare, Bali Baghat were also present on the occasion.
Describing Forest as natures great gift, the Chief Minister asked the department to work in a mission mode so as to change the common perception about the functioning of the department.
Stressing upon framing of a policy paper on rejuvenating our forest wealth, Mufti Sayeed said peoples participation should be central to the efforts of the government in saving the States green gold. He also asked the department to prepare a comprehensive plan in this regard, with focus on public-private partnership for forest conservation. We can approach the Union Ministry of Forest & Environment (MoEF) for funding of this project, he added.
The Chief Minister was informed that the Social Forestry Department will, in the first instance, start afforestaton drives from Khiram to Budroo in Kashmir and Kathua to Sarthal in Jammu division on a grand scale, over an area spread over 1470 hectares.
Placing high priority on regeneration of forests, the Chief Minister noted with concern the rampant denudation of our 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.
On the issue of potential of the state in commercial propagation of medicinal plants, the Chief Minister was informed that the department has prepared a project worth Rs. 12 crore, with sites identified at 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.
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