Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department observed National Forest Martyrs Day to pay homage to the brave forest officers and officials who laid down their lives while protecting the forest and wildlife wealth in the Union Territory.Commissioner Secretary, Department of Forest, Environment of Ecology, Sarita Chauhan, who chaired the event, released a book dedicated to forests martyrs of J&K “Green Hearts: Protecting Forests and Wildlife”.Sarita Chauhan highlighted the importance of the day saying that this national event is being observed to pay homage to about 360 people of Bishnoi community who laid down their lives while protecting the ‘Khejri’ trees in ‘Kejrali’ village of Rajasthan on this day in 1730. She said that in Jammu and Kashmir the staff of the Forest Department has been facing a lot of challenges especially in the last over three decades of disturbance and different kinds of vulnerabilities associated with it. She said the rapid urbanization, heavy dependence of locals on forest resources and greed led to increase in conflict with forest damage criminals, land mafia resulting many a times in the killings of forest officials while protecting forests and wildlife. She appreciated the forest frontline staff for working earnestly in remotest corners of J&K under most difficult conditions besides executing their bonafide duties round the clock.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and HoFF, Forest Department, Dr.Mohit Gera, during his brief address, remembered the supreme sacrifice of all those who laid down their lives while protecting forests, wildlife and other natural resources of J&K. He saluted the bravery of officers and officials who fought against the forest damage doers. He informed that the book on forest martyrs will help the people of J&K to appreciate the exceptional courage and the supreme sacrifice made by the forest officials in protection of our forest wealth. He called upon all forest officials to take a pledge today for protection of our forests and wildlife to ensure ecological security of fragile eco-system in J&K.Chief Conservator of Forests, Kashmir, S.F.A.Gillani, said that a lot of efforts are being made to give due recognition to the supreme sacrifices of our forest martyrs. He informed that the genuine demands of the forest frontline staff including risk allowance, two and a half day extra salary on police pattern is being addressed at the highest level.Conservator of Forests, Central Circle, Irfan Ali Shah, said J&K has been one of the toughest places in the country where more than 110 forest officers and on duty forest staff have lost their lives while protecting forests and wildlife.Among the others the program was attended by Vasu Yadav, Managing Director, FDC, Conservators of Forests, Family members of Forest Martyrs, Divisional Forest Officers, Range Officers, Law Officers and Forest officials.