Commissioner Secretary, Department of Forests, Environment and Ecology, Sanjeev Verma, conducted an extensive tour of Billawar Forest Division, the other day and interacted with the PRIs, VPPCs and other stakeholders.
Sanjeev Verma took stock of various greening and soil conservation works being taken up by Forest Department in degraded forest areas of lower Shiwaliks.
Commissioner Secretary also attended a public outreach programme organized by Forest department at Billawar rural panchayat.
During the programme, DDC Billawar, Bikram Singh, DDC Mandli, Neeru Bala, Chairman Municipal Committee, Billawar, Gopal Basotra, Sarpanch, Billawar Rural Panchayat, Mittu Devi and other representatives of tribal communities especially beneficiaries of Forest Rights Committee, Najote presented their views and suggestions on conservation and protection of forests.
The PRI representatives called upon the need to develop Sukral and Chew villages as tourist spots by providing Forest huts in these areas. They appreciated the plantation and protection works being carried out by Forest department in the area.
Sanjeev Verma, speaking on the occasion, underscored the need to create water harvesting structures like ponds, water holes, check-dams and contour trenches under MGNREGA to meet water requirements of animals and bird diversity in the lean periods and to maximize re-charging of ground water. He asked for involving NSS and NCC cadets, SHGs and Youth clubs in carrying out massive plantation on government, private and common lands on slopes and vacant parcels in the area.
Commissioner Secretary directed the department to work in tandem during the monsoon season to further encourage extensive plantation drives. He urged upon the FRA beneficiaries to play pro-active role in forest protection works.
PCCF and HoFF, Dr. Mohit Gera apprised that the Forest department has earnestly worked for settlement of forest rights under FRA and has initiated various avenues for creating sustainable livelihoods. He said department is keen towards effective implementation of Van-Dhan Yojana which has capability to increase livelihood opportunities for tribal communities living in forest fringe areas.
During the visit, Sanjeev Verma also inspected the pond restoration works at Murillian de Talai and Moraan da Talab at Phinter.
He also interacted with BDC Chairman, Billawar, Ashok Spolia and others seeking their co-operation in the upkeep of water bodies in the area.
Sanjeev Verma, while inspecting works at Dhanary Forest Nursery, appreciated the quality of planting stock there and directed the DFO, Social Forestry, Kathua, to enhance plant production potential of the nursery.
Commissioner Secretary also attended another public outreach programme at Kandharnoo, Nagrota Gujroo which was attended by PRI representatives of Kasher, Sialna, Kandharnoo and Uchapind panchayats.
The PRIs appreciated the efforts of Social Forestry Department especially the initiative of roadside greening by strip-plantations.
APCCF Jammu, B M Sharma, ADC Billawar, Sandesh Sharma, ACD, Kathua, Kishore Katoch, Regional Director, Social Forestry, Mohinder Gupta, Jammu, DFOs Billawar and Social Forestry, Kathua accompanied the Commissioner Secretary during the visit.