Govt keen to promote eco-tourism in potential areas: Lal Singh

Srinagar :-Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment, Choudhary Lal Singh has said that government has tagged protection of forests and wildlife as the priority sector keeping in view their importance in boosting tourism activities in the state.

“The forests and rich eco-system are the main natural legacies which accord Jammu and Kashmir the distinction of being the paradise on Earth” the Minister said while chairing a meeting of officers of forest department here today.

He said eco-tourism is fast picking up in the state and there was an impending need to protect and preserve the natural habitats and eco-systems. The Minister informed that Government has identified Bangus valley, Doodpathri, Toshamaidan, Daksum, Pahalgam, Warwan, Sukrala and Machedi areas for promotion of eco-tourism.

He asked the Chief Conservator of Eco-Tourism to gear up men and machinery for developing the areas with provision for accommodation and other basic facilities so that the visiting tourists enjoy their stay without any inconvenience.

Principal Chief Conservator of Forests AK Singh, Director Soil Conservation Ravi Kessar, Managing Director State Forest Corporation, Arun Kumar Tikku, Chief Conservator of Forests Roshan Jaggi, Chief Conservator of Wild Life and Eco-Tourism AK Gupta besides Divisional

Forest officers of Jammu region were present in the meeting.

Underscoring the need for close monitoring of ongoing projects for development and protection of State’s forests and flora-fauna, the Minister stressed upon the heads of various wings to monitor the projects by conducting frequent field visits.

Choudhary Lal Singh directed the officers to put their sincere efforts in making future plans and envisage initiatives for development of open spaces along canal banks, schools, railway lines, universities through massive plantation. He asked them to plant fruit trees and modernize nurseries to grow quality trees. He directed the officers to take anticipatory measures and plant the saplings on open chunk of forest land in order to prevent encroachment.

Choudhary Lal Singh directed for achieving 100 percent targets under plantation drive in coming monsoon especially on degraded and vacant forest land. He stressed that work in this regard should be visible on ground and directed for third party monitoring and inspection.

The Minister issued strict instructions to the concerned for timely distribution of timber to the needy and directed that seized timber should also be disposed off among genuine customers. “The fixed targets for extraction and distribution of timber to customers in both the Divisions should be ensured,” he said, adding that any negligence in this regard will be viewed seriously.

Choudhary Lal Singh asked the officers to be more active and intensify field visits instead of sitting in the offices. He directed them to closely monitor the activities launched by the department in the areas of their jurisdiction so that the purpose of the schemes was attained. He directed officers to use the funds judiciously sanctioned under CAMPA.

Directing the officers to plant trees on Bani-Mashaka road, the Minister said that it will serve two purposes of saving the forest land from erosion and adding beauty to the road.

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