‘14345 Hectares of Forest Land under Encroachment,’ Govt Reveals

srinagar: J&K Government on Saturday said that innovative measures initiated by it would take forest and its allied wings to new heights and it will also “bring positive transformation” on the ground in increasing forest cover and conserving the ecology of the state.

The government said that over 2801.23 hectares of forest land of total recorded encroachment of 14345 hectares has been retrieved during nearly three years, he added.

This was revealed by the Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology, Choudhary Lal Singh today in the J&K Legislature, an official spokesperson said.

Winding up the discussion in the Lower House of the legislature on Demands for Grants of Forest Department including Ecology, Environment and Pollution Control Board, the Minister said several measures have been taken to make functioning of the department accountable, transparent and result-oriented.

Enumerating the initiatives launched by the Government, the Minister said department has embarked on many new programmes, including establishment of hi-tech nurseries and up-gradation of existing nurseries for production of quality planting stocks with a vision of raising 15 crore saplings annually.

He said DPR for beautification of National Highway (NH1-A/), railway line through plantations, creation of green corridors,  plantation around Ranjit Sagar, Baglihar Dams and other water bodies have also been formulated.

He also informed the House that promotion of rotational grazing and eco-tourism, nature tourism is a priority for the Government.

He said the government won’t allow breach of the forest rights of tribal communities and called for active contribution of such communities in conservation of forests.

He also said plantation of fruit trees amidst forest plantations would reduce man-animal conflict.

The Minister said that conservation of Wullar Lake besides, many other lakes and water bodies in the State is the topmost priority of the Government.

He said that as per a study conducted by Directorate of Ecology & Environment, a total of 1230 big and small lakes and water bodies exist in the State of J&K with 425 in Kashmir province, 150 in Jammu and 665 in Ladakh region.

For conservation of Asia’s fresh water Wullar Lake, he said Wullar Conservation and Management Authority (WuCMA) has been created.

He said the Government mulls 34.58 km completely eco-friendly Boulevard project at a cost of Rs 700 crore to revamp Wullar lake. He said that perimeter of Wullar is 83.6 km; the proposed Wullar Boulevard project will begin from Garoora to Sopore, covering around 34.58 km of its periphery.

Informing about the progress on de-silting operations, the Minister said that work is underway under the comprehensive Wullar Conservation and Management Plan (WCMP) to increase the water holding capacity of the lake. He also informed that entire periphery of the lake had been demarcated as per authentic revenue records which indicates lake area of 130 sq kms.

“As many as 1,159 geo-tagged boundary pillars have been erected delineating the lake boundary from the adjoining areas,” he added.

Giving details about the forest land encroachment, Singh said that Government has devised a plan for fencing the forest areas.

“We need estimated Rs 8000 crore for conservation of forest resources including fencing, but with the current resources we will start fencing around the areas which are vulnerable for encroachments,” he added.

The Minister said that according to Working Plan, Jammu and Kashmir has 20230 km forest area covering 19.95 per cent geographical area the State and the department has taken strict measures to remove encroachment from the forest area as part of its drive against the encroachment. Over 2801.23 hectares of forest land of total recorded encroachment of 14345 hectares has been retrieved during nearly three years, he added.

Elaborating further, the Minister said that in addition, Forest Department has also retrieved 2903.65 hectares unrecorded/freshly encroached land across Jammu region and 205 hectares in Jammu city and its outskirts, in last 2 years.

On timber distribution, he said that all depots of SFC have been asked to provide hassle-free timber to people.

He said that SFC has succeeded in extracting 36.10 lakh cfts of timber and has transported 24.00 lakh cfts to its Sale Depots during 2016-17 upto ending December 2016.




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