Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment Choudhary Lal Singh today informed that the government has retrieved around 1.35 lakh kanals encroached forest land from the land grabbers in 2016-17 for restoration of state’s forest cover.The Minister said this while interacting with officers of the department and its allied wings at Forest Information Centre here today.Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ravi Kesar, Chief Wildlife Warden Manoj Pant, Managing Director State Forest Corporation Suresh Gupta, Director, Social Forestry, Ashwani Gupta, Chief Conservator Forests, Farooq Gillani, Director FPF Asif Mehmood Sagar, Director SFRI B.M Sharma, Director Soil Conservation Javed Iqbal Punju, Regional Wildlife Warden Dr V.S Sinthil Kumar, Conservator East Circle Kh Qamar-ud-Din, Joint Director Soil and Water Conservation Pawan Kudyar, Conservator Chenab Circle T.B Singh, Regional Director Social Forestry Roop Kour Avtar and Divisional Forest Officers were also present in the meeting.Emphasizing the need to protect state’s forest wealth from habitual land grabbers, the Minister directed the officers of the department to ensure that proper demarcation of forest land is done in a transparent manner so that encroachment can be curbed at all levels.
Choudhary Lal Singh asked the DFOs to submit the area wise detail of the forest land within a week’s time to the department so that the spaces can be used for forest closures, construction of departmental buildings including check posts and offices.He directed the officers for preparing log books of each forest compartment and display sign boards on forest land so that the land grabbers refrain from encroaching state’s green wealth. He cautioned the officers against any laxity on their part in dealing with the encroachers.The Minister called for formulation of proper demarcation plan with greater vigil, proper fencing methodology and involvement of locals. He also called for undertaking computerization of forest land records so that proper upkeep of the available resources is ensured.He stressed upon the officers to perform their duty with a missionary zeal for protecting the forest cover with focus on vulnerable areas and asked DFOs Territorial to personally monitor the fencing of forest land to check encroachment. He stressed on the need to generate mass awareness regarding the measures for safeguarding the forest wealth and prevent illicit felling of trees.He also directed the DFOs to establish hi-tech nurseries and upgrade existing ones for production of quality planting stocks with a target of raising 5 crore saplings annually so that every open as well as road side strips will be developed with green cover.He informed that SFRI has established five model nurseries with a capacity of raising 50 lakh plants of ornamental, medicinal and fruits. The Minister said that the state wide drive carried out last year witnessed plantation of 2 crore saplings on mainland including 30 per cent fruit bearing species and 2.5 lakh along the National Highways with untiring efforts of departmental functionaries and cooperation of the locals.