JAMMU, Jan 27: Government today admitted that process of formulating first ever Environment Policy of Jammu and Kashmir, which was initiated six years back, has yet not reached the logical conclusion.
Replying to the question of CPM MLA Mohd Yousuf Tarigami in the Legislative Assembly, Minister for Forests and Environment Ch Lal Singh admitted that J&K has yet not formulated Environment Policy, which otherwise is of immense importance to check degradation of environment caused by varied factors.
“The process for formulation of State Environment Policy has been initiated and is under examination with different stakeholders”, the Minister said. He, however, failed to give any specific time-frame for completion of this vital exercise.
It is pertinent to mention here that EXCELSIOR in its edition dated December 23, 2016 had exclusively highlighted that exercise to prepare Environment Policy of J&K continued to remain in limbo despite lapse of six years because of non-serious approach of the Department of Forests and Environment.
Actually, the exercise was started in 2011 when the Government constituted a Technical Committee vide Order No.161-FSt dated March 31, 2011. Headed by the Chairman of State Pollution Control Board, the Technical Committee comprising of Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Director Soil and Water Conservation Department, Director Environment and Remote Sensing, Chief Conservator of Forests and Ecotourism, Joint Director State Forest Research Institute, Senior Agrostologist and Regional Director, Environment, Ecology and Remote Sensing reviewed the draft prepared by the Coordinator ENVIS/SER in its meeting held on July 30, 2012.
After analyzing the draft the Technical Committee proposed to constitute a sub-committee under Member Secretary, State Pollution Control Board and the convener of the Technical Committee sent the draft to all the members of the sub-committee for comments in 2012-2013. However, before the sub-committee could complete the assigned task entire record got damaged due to flooding of Civil Secretariat at Srinagar in September 2014.
Thereafter, no step was initiated either by the sub-committee or by the Technical Committee to again commence the exercise and give final shape to the draft of the first-ever Environment Policy. Even today the Minister failed to specify any time-frame for completion of this exercise.
About the population of Hangul, a world famous deer, the Minister informed the House that the population of Hangul has declined considerably. “In 2009, the population of Hangul was 234 but the number was recorded at 186 during the year 2015”, he said while quoting the Hangul Population Estimation exercise conducted in Dachigam National Park and adjoining habitats.
Regarding the conservation of Hangul, the Minister said that Dachigam National Park has been accorded the status of a single administrative unit under the wildlife division central for better management. “Demarcation of the boundaries of Dachigam National Park and adjacent conservation reserves has been initiated to strengthen enforcement and protection”, he said, adding “a conservation breeding center to breed Hangul in captivity and then replenish its wild populations has been established at Shikargah Tral”.
Listing other conservation measures, he said grazing is restricted to upper areas of Dachigam while efforts to relocate the sheep breeding farm from Dachigam are under process. “Strict tourist flow and check on unnecessary vehicular movement is being enforced. Periodic census of Hangul population is regularly conducted by experts from reputed institutes of country”, he added.
Replying to another query regarding demarcation of forest land in the State, the Minister said that demarcation files, maps and other land records of forest areas have been digitized and are being uploaded in State e-facility (state server) for the security of records for ever. “The department is also imparting training to DFOs to use the digitized records”, he added.
“Muhafiz Khana for security of the old demarcation files, maps of demarcated forests has been established at Jammu as well as in Srinagar. Based on demarcation files and records, the boundary pillars are being renovated/ reconstructed in sensitive locations. The new boundary pillars made of concrete are being erected at all the locations”, the Minister said, adding “the geo- reference of the established boundary pillars are being taken and stored for further use”.