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Face to Face with Ch Lal Singh

YoungBites. Dated: 3/23/2017 11:08:37 AM

Govt keen to promote eco-tourism in J&K: Ch Lal Singh

* Till date around 14345 hectares has been retrieved from land mafia
* Eco-tourism is fast picking up in the State
* Won’t allow anyone to breach rights of tribal communities
The forests and rich eco-system are the main natural legacies which accord Jammu and Kashmir the distinction of being the paradise on Earth.
This was stated by the Minister for Forests, Ecology and Environment, Choudhary Lal Singh during his exclusive interaction with the Young Bites. Here are the excerpts.
Vijay Gupta
VG: What steps have you taken to bring this derailed department back on the tracks?
LS: It is true that due to non-serious policies of the previous government, the forest department was in shambles, no one was ready to work sincerely, employees were working without any salaries from last many months, there were complete messes, which were created by the former ministers. But day one after assuming the charge of Forest Minister, several measures have been taken to make functioning of the department accountable, transparent and result-oriented.
Many new programmes, including establishment of hi-tech nurseries and upgradation of existing nurseries for production of quality planting stocks with a vision of raising 15 crore saplings annually. 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.
For the promotion of rotational grazing, nature tourism is a priority for the Government, we won’t allow anyone to breach of the forest rights of tribal communities and called for active contribution of such communities in conservation of forests.
VG: Encroachment of forest land is a big issue, is there any plan with the government to retrieve them from land Mafia?
LS: it is true that encroachment of forest land is a big issue but I am committed to retrieve every inch of forest land from the mafia, which has encroached a big chunk of forest land and at present the government itself is facing the scarcity of land to start big and new projects for the development of this state.
Meanwhile, to retrieve the forest land, we have 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.
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.
Till date, my 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.
VG: Promotion of eco-tourism is still a distant dream, what is your take?
LS: It is false to say that the government is not serious to promote eco-tourism; we have done a lot in this sector. The government aims to promote tourism in the areas having natural beauty without disturbing the environment and ecological balance of the area. Since, many sites of tourism interest fall in Forest areas of the state, undertaking eco-tourism activities in such areas will provide livelihood opportunities to the locals besides, ensuring minimum or no disturbance to the forest eco-systems.
Eco-tourism is fast picking up in the State and there was an impending need to protect and preserve the natural habitats and eco-systems. The Minister informed that Government has identified Bangus Valley, Doodpathri, Toshamaidan, Daksum, Pahalgam, Warwan, Sukrala and Machedi areas for promotion of eco-tourism.
I have told my Chief Conservator to gear up men and machinery for developing the areas with provision for accommodation and other basic facilities so that the visiting tourists enjoy their stay without any inconvenience.
Underscoring the need for close monitoring of ongoing projects for development and protection of State’s forests and flora-fauna, I have told the heads of various wings to monitor the projects by conducting frequent field visits.
This was not all that the senior leader and Forest Minister Choudhary Lal Singh has to say about his department, many other things should be discussed with him in the next part of our Face to Face with Choudhary Lal Singh, till then good bye.


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