Commissioner Secretary Forests, Sanjeev Verma, today inaugurated World Wetlands Day celebration at Wildlife Complex Manda here.While addressing a group of 21 bird watchers before flag off, Verma highlighted the importance of World Wetlands Day giving historic perspective and significance at present times. He called upon the young bird watchers to be ambassadors of nature conservation.Jammu & Kashmir is blessed with bounty of wetlands which are important ecosystems due to their role in water recharge, flood mitigation, water purification, biodiversity and livelihood support.Commissioner Secretary mentioned that different wings of the government are working for conservation and restoration of wetlands in coordination with other concerned agencies. He complimented department of Wildlife Protection for taking various initiatives in Wetland Conservation Reserves including preparation of their Management Plans for the first time.Verma also mentioned about unique feature of J&K with regard to having three Ramsar sites i.e., Wullar, Hokersar and Mansar-Surinsar. Ramsar Sites are wetlands of international importance, he added.
Dr. Mohit Gera, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, emphasized upon involvement of locals especially Panchayat Raj Institutions in conservation and restoration of wetlands. He mentioned that department is taking number of measures for restoration of wetlands in forest areas and a directory in this regard is also being prepared.Suresh Kumar Gupta, Chief Wildlife Warden, listed various initiatives being taken up by the department for conservation of Wetland Conservation Reserves in the UT. He mentioned that the department has organised similar programmes at other parts of Union Territory like Surinsar-Mansar, Gharana, Hokersar, Chatlum, Shallabugh, Hygam etc. The programmes included walks, bird watching, cleanliness drives, stakeholders meetings etc.At Hokersar, a wall of pledge has been raised for taking pledge to save wetlands and this programme was chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir. Wetland mitras attended the programme at all the Ramsar sites.During the event, Commissioner Secretary Forest honoured B.L.Parimoo, noted environmentalist, Guldev Raj, noted bird photographer and Ashish Mahajan, Range Officer Wetlands Jammu for their contribution.The programme was conducted by Dr. Kumar M.K. Regional Wildlife Warden, Jammu and attended by Anil Atri, Amit Sharma, Dr. Arun Gupta Wildlife Wardens, Wildlife staff and nature enthusiasts amid observance of all Covid protocols.The programme culminated with Commissioner Secretary flagging off a group of bird watchers to Gharana Wetland Conservation Reserve.