A meeting of Department Related Standing Committee (DRSC-II) of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council was held here today under the Chairmanship of Ramesh Arora to review the functioning of the Forest Department.Legislators, Showkat Hussain Ganai, Qaiser Jamsheed Lone, Ashok Khajuria and Surinder Mohan Ambardar were present in the meeting and shared their views for bringing further improvement in the department.Commissioner Secretary, Forest Department, Muhammad Afzal briefed the Committee about the activities of the department, including the detail of total budget allocations with expenditure incurred during the last 4 years and the area under wildlife.The Committee was informed that the state has about 16000 sq km. area under wildlife. He also gave details about the steps taken to retrieve encroached forest and forest land. He said in the process e Wildlife Department and Revenue authorities have been booked several encroachers.
The meeting was informed that steps are underway to turn the State into complete eco-friendly zone. Commissioner Secretary further informed that work was apace on five national parks across the State and two Zoos one each in Kashmir coming up in Phalgam and one in Jammu in Nagrota area.Earlier the Chairman called for proper utilization of funds in Forest and its allied sectors to bring vibrancy into the Department. He also called for checking and keeping eye on the encroachments alongside national Highways. He said that the name of the encroachers should be submitted before Committee. “In order to preserve the Forests across the State, a forest policy should be formulated,” he said. The Committee also sought details about the cannabis cultivation in Bandipora district. The Chairman also called upon officers to remain vigilant over forest fires during the summer season in the State.The Chairman appreciated the department for creating a detailed data base of the forest and wildlife land, including identification of areas where encroachments are rampant. He said this would help in effective retrieval of encroached road.Among others, Principal Chief Conservator Forest, A. K. Singh, Principal Chief Conservator Forest (PCCF) (WL), Suresh Chugh, Chief Conservator Forest (P&P), N. P. Singh and other senior officers of Forest Department besides senior officers and officials of Council Secretariat attended the meeting.