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With an increase of 348 sq km of forest cover, J&K figures among top 5 States/UTs

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Lt Governor salutes bravery of forest personnel; asks Forest Department to explore the possibility of making Dachigam more accessible local destination

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir has recorded an increase of 348 sq km of forest cover and figured among top 5 States/UTs and the increase has enabled it (UT) to receive a higher proportion of funds, around Rs 1700 Cr annually under the 15th Finance Commission.

This was disclosed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha today while speaking at the Passing out Ceremony of the Forest Guards of 32nd, 56th, and 66th Course here at Convention Centre. The ceremony started with the Guard of Honour to the Lt Governor by the personnel of the Forest Protection Force, J&K.

Lieutenant Governor paid homage to all the martyrs of the Forest Department who have laid down their lives and made supreme sacrifice in the line of duty saying, “I salute the bravery of forest personnel working day and night to protect Forests, Wildlife and the Environment.”

He congratulated the 98 pass-outs and exhorted them to discharge the noble responsibility of conserving natural resources and biodiversity with utmost zeal and dedication.

Emphasizing on extending J&K’s green cover, the Lt Governor called for development of Eco Parks across J&K and establishing more Bal Vans, and green areas specifically for the Senior Citizens, besides comprehensive plan for the conservation of ecology in and around Mansar-Surinsar lakes and protection of wetlands and wastelands.

He also asked the department to focus on Hangul conservation and explore the possibility of making the Dachigam as a more accessible local destination.

Highlighting the role of forest frontline staff in protection and conservation of forests and the biodiversity, the Lt Governor said that Forest Guards are no less than soldiers of our Defence and Police forces. He asked the department to organize programmes on 11th September-Forest Martyr’s Day every year to mark the efforts of frontline staff and pay tribute to their valour and sacrifices.

The Lt Governor appreciated the department on notable increase of forest cover as reported by Forest Survey of India in its 2019 report.

J&K with an increase of 348 sq km of forest cover has figured among top 5 States/UTs that have registered the highest increase in forest cover. These forests have enabled J&K to receive a higher proportion of funds, around Rs 1700 Cr annually under the 15th Finance Commission. I congratulate the Department for this, said the Lt Governor.

Speaking on the positive impact of forest products on the economy of the UT, the Lt Governor observed that the monetary value of benefits like timber, firewood, fodder and non-timber Forest Products as assessed by Directorate of Economics & Statistics are worth around Rs 3000 Crore which is more than 2% of the GDP of J&K. Focusing on new avenues like Ecotourism and promotion of Wood-Based Industries, the contribution to GDP can be increased substantially, added the Lt Governor.

On the implementation of the Forest Rights Act, the Lt Governor said that the Government is committed towards the welfare of the communities dependent on forests who were earlier deprived of their rights.

He asked the department to involve stakeholders like Urban Local Bodies, other line departments, NGOs and civil society in developing green spaces.

While addressing the passing out Forest Guards, the Lt Governor asked them to work closely with the people, in villages and in urban areas and be an agent of government to bring improvement in their livelihood.

On the occasion, the Lt Governor felicitated the trainees who excelled in academics and extracurricular activities.  He also extended his greetings to the people on World Wildlife Day and World Hearing Day.

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