Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Wednesday paid homage to all the martyrs of the Forest Department who have laid down their lives and made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.
“I salute the bravery of forest personnel working day and night to protect Forests, Wildlife and the Environment,” LG said.
LG was speaking at the passing out ceremony of the Forest Guards of 32nd, 56th, and 66th course here at the convention centre. The ceremony started with the Guard of Honour to the LG by the personnel of the Forest Protection Force, J-K.
To mark the occasion, LG planted saplings of Rudraksh in the premises of convention centre.
B.V.R. Subrahmanyam, Chief Secretary was the guest of honour on the occasion. Sarita Chauhan, Commissioner/ Secretary to the Government, Department of Forest, Ecology & Environment; Dr. Mohit Gera, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests; Sarvesh Rai, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Executive Officer, CAMPA and T. Rabi Kumar, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests were present on the occasion.
During his address, the LG congratulated the 98 pass-outs and exhorted them to discharge the noble responsibility of conserving natural resources and biodiversity with utmost zeal and dedication.
Emphasizing on extending J-K’s green cover, the LG called for development of eco parks across J-K and establishing more Bal Vans, and green areas specifically for the senior citizens, besides comprehensive plan for the conservation of ecology in and around Mansar-Surinsar lakes and protection of wetlands and wastelands.
He also asked the department to focus on Hangul conservation and explore the possibility of making the Dachigam as a more accessible local destination.
Highlighting the role of forest frontline staff in protection and conservation of forests and biodiversity, the LG said that forest guards are no less than soldiers of our defence and police forces. He asked the department to organize programmes on 11 September-Forest Martyr’s Day every year to mark the efforts of frontline staff and pay tribute to their valour and sacrifices.
The LG appreciated the department for the notable increase of forest cover as reported by the Forest Survey of India in its 2019 report.
J-K with an increase of 348sq km of forest cover has figured among top 5 States/UT that have registered the highest increase in forest cover. These forests have enabled J-K to receive a higher proportion of funds, around 1700 crore rupees annually under the 15th Finance Commission. I congratulate the Department for this, said the LG.
Underscoring the importance of forests, LG said that a nations’ strength predominantly rests in its natural and human resources. In natural resources, India ranks among the top twelve mega-diverse countries of the world and Jammu and Kashmir harbors huge diversity due to its geographic and altitudinal variation, he added.
Speaking on the positive impact of forest products on the economy of the UT, the LG observed that the monetary value of benefits like timber, firewood, fodder and non-timber Forest Products as assessed by Directorate of Economics & Statistics are worth around 3000 crore rupees which is more than 2% of the GDP of J-K. Focusing on new avenues like ecotourism and promotion of wood-based industries, the contribution to GDP can be increased substantially, added the LG.
On the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, the LG said that the government is committed towards the welfare of the communities dependent on forests who were earlier deprived of their rights.
The Forest Department and the Tribal Affairs Department are working tirelessly to ensure livelihood security, dignity and prosperity to forest dwelling scheduled tribes and other traditional forest dwelling communities, the LG maintained.