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Commissioner Secretary Forest tours Udhampur; Assesses damage due to forest fires

UDHAMPUR: Commissioner Secretary, Forests, Environment and Ecology, Sanjeev Verma, today conducted an extensive tour of Udhampur Forest division and inspected the fire affected areas in Co.97/D and Co.98/D.

During the tour, Commissioner Secretary reviewed the extent of damage caused by the forest fires besides taking stock of preparedness of the fire control teams and problems being faced by the front line staff in tackling forest issues.

Sanjeev Verma directed for deployment of more staff in vulnerable areas to minimize the fire incidents in the district forests.

He asked for taking strict action, under law, against those mischievous elements who intentionally ignite fires.

He also asked the Forest staff to immediately take up Beating Up of Casualties (BUC) in the Closures affected due to fire.

During the visit, Commissioner Secretary also interacted with BDC Chairman, Chenani and Sarpanch Basht at Panchayat Basht and assessed issues and concerns of their respective areas.

Responding to issues raised by PRIs, Commissioner Secretary directed the concerned officers to address the same withn shortest possible time.

He urged upon the BDC Chairman and PRI representatives to involve Self Help Groups in collection of Chir Pine needles for making handcrafts as well fuel briquettes that will help in rural livelihood generation.

He also asked them for increasing participation of SHGs in Forest management and Protection making them stakeholders in promoting environmental cause as well as to mitigate climate change and forest fire that has taken a heavy toll on the Forest Biodiversity of the area due to continuous temperature rise and minimum rainfall this year.

He asked the Social Forestry Department to identify available chunks of land in Chenani Sudh Maha Dev area in consultation with Revenue officials and PRIs and prepare a plan under convergence for taking up low cost greening interventions during coming Monsoon. Distribution of seed balls may also be taken up among the Village Panchayats of the area for greening the catchment locations through an integrated approach, he added.

Commissioner Secretary emphasized the need for development of fringe lands by planting multipurpose and local species to cater to the local needs for fodder and fuel wood.

He also inspected Soil and Water conservation measures undertaken by the Wildlife Department in Sudh Maha Dev Conservation reserve in Co.109/D. He asked the department to take up massive plantation in degraded areas as per the Management Plan.

Commissioner Secretary also inspected Eco trek route from Mantalai to Patnitop created by Wildlife Department and emphasized beautification of Eco trek route by means of plantation as well as disposal of plastic waste on whole trek.

Later, Commissioner Secretary attended public outreach programme organized by Social Forestry Department with Village Panchayat Plantation Committees of Latti-A, Latti-B, Sira-A and Sira-B.

Sarpanch Kasturi Lal Gupta, Makhan Manhas, Sudesh Kumar, Balwan Singh and locals attended the outreach camp. They demanded construction of Bridal Path from Main Road to Panchayat Ghar Sira, Chainlik Fencing at FRH Latti, closures on State/Forest Land and placement of Block Officer of Social Forestry at Latti.

While speaking on the occasion, Verma said that the department is organizing such programmes across J&K to ensure participation of VPPCs in enhanced growth and development of rural parts of the UT.

He appealed the PRIs to provide all logistic support to the department in creating plantation assets and identification of vacant land for mass plantation so that the needs of locals are met in addition to mitigation of climatic issues. These "Green Assets" will generate financial resources to such Panchayats besides generating livelihood and employment avenues for locals. He directed all wings of the Department to work in unison during the monsoon season to carry out massive plantation drives.

Commissioner Secretary was accompanied by Roshan Jaggi, PCCF/ Director Social Forestry; B M Sharma, APCCF Jammu; Abhijeet Joshi, Joint Director Soil Conservation Jammu; Mohinder Gupta, Regional Director, Social Forestry, Jammu; Abinav Ramyotra, DFO Social Forestry; Amit Sharma Wildlife Warden Jammu; Sanjay Kotwal, DSCO; Dharam Paul, ACD besides field staff of the department.

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