2,250 square km of forest land degraded in J-K: Govt

Jammu: Jammu and Kashmir government on Monday said that 2,250 square kilometres of forest area has been degraded in the Union Territory till date.

However, the forest department on an average restores 100-200 square kilometres of the degraded forest area in an year, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), Mohit Gera said here.

“Out of total of 20,194 square kilometres of the forest area in J&K, around 2,250 square kilometres forest area has degraded,” Gera said.

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He informed that the forest department has set a target of planting 1.3 crore plants this year and it is on course to meeting the target.

Gera said that out of 3,700 traditional village ponds requiring repair and reconstruction, 57 ponds have been taken up under UT capex for repair during this financial year and so far 37 ponds have been reconstructed.

The Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, who chaired a meeting to review the working of forest department, directed the department to restore 1000 square kilometres forest area during the next year in convergence with the funds available under labour component.

Gera informed that the campaign-‘Har Gaon Hariyali’ has been well received by the people at large and the panchayats in the UT are locked in a healthy competition of outdoing one another on the issue of plantation.

The Chief Secretary directed the department to repair all 3,700 ponds within next six months.

He said repair and rejuvenation of these ponds will recharge the ground water and improve the whole ecosystem of lives and livelihood in the villages.

Saying that the practice of the people feeding monkeys on the national highways and tourist places has to be stopped, the chief secretary said the department needs to improve enforcement thorough heightened vigil and imposition of fines to deter people from doing so as it causes unnecessary accidental deaths of monkeys.

Dr Mehta said the forest department needs to put a high premium on climate mitigation and ensure that vehicular pollution is effectively checked and the violators are suitably penalized.

He asked the department to ensure that visibly polluting vehicles from outside the UT are not allowed entry at Lakhanpur border.

The Chief Secretary directed the forest department to erect hoardings and billboards at Lakhanpur border carrying unequivocal directions from the department for the interstate commuters that the vehicles not conforming to the pollution norms will not be let into J&K.

Holding plastic littered on the roadsides and in and around forest areas as the terrible pollutant and eye sore, he asked the department to mount a campaign titled- ‘Say No to Plastics’ in the media advising the people against the use of the plastics.

Dr Mehta also asked the department to spearhead a plastic cleanliness campaign on war footing across J&K.

Appreciating the conservation works carried out in the surroundings of the Wullar lake, the chief secretary said the unrivalled beauty of the lake needs to be celebrated and asked the department to hold Wullar lake festivals thrice- during spring, summer and autumn- in a year.

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