Protecting of our green gold, the forests – seems to be nobody’s concern especially when their size is considerably under strain and virtual siege. They are shrinking, there is illegal encroachment, wildlife is endangered and even certain species of trees and medicinal plants are on the brink of extinction. Added to the dismal and pathetic conditions of our dwindling forests, is the scourge of mysterious fires which massacre standing trees as if felling them illegally was any less in nature to inflict damage to them. Anyone who loves nature and is a nature enthusiast must be crying on watching rising clouds of smoke and blazes in forests, stretched over vast areas and spreading like proverbial wild fire. Every year, we helplessly watch such an irreversible destruction of our green gold but we are undone as State machinery does not include it in the list of priorities.
Against this backdrop the organs, the machinery, handling protection of these forests and the wildlife are attenuated and virtually crippled. Should it have been so in Jammu and Kashmir State where major source of attraction for the tourists are our lush green forests, wildlife, flora and fauna? We are yet in our infancy to evaluate our vast natural resources like forests and flora and fauna which we could make optimal use of without overdrawing from them but boosting our economy by linking with our tourism industry.
See the other part of the issue under reference, we have Jammu and Kashmir Forest Protection Force – created on Jammu and Kashmir Police pattern and perhaps the first of its kind in the entire country, is not being sustained as warranted in the sense that even regular trainings are not imparted to its personnel . How could in its absence forest laws be effectively implemented on ground with an aim to protect our forests. Its main role and assigned duties are to effectively check felling of trees, poaching, encroachments, preventing forest fires and illegal extraction like activities. We have Wildlife Protection Department both under the overall supervision and control of the Forest Department. Wildlife Protection Department is bestowed with the noble but responsible duty to protection of our wildlife, flora and fauna. In addition to it, this Department is mandated to manage the protected areas (of forests etc) in the State.
It is imperative that before we question these Departments about their level of performance, they should be better equipped with necessary inputs but we have learnt that they continue to reel under one or the other problem which have a telling effect on their performance and output. It is nice that the administration in the present competitive era should be concerned more about the output but at the same time, must get an effective feedback where the administration had to step in by providing man power and other facilities. Shortcomings and minor aberrations in the system must be checked in time to prevent a major damage later.
How can the prevalent scenario be described by the Government that training in handling of arms and ammunition is given to the personnel of Forest Protection Force but weapons are not provided to them ? How can they save themselves from the well motivated criminal poachers and also protect the forest wealth? The Departments, as usual are reeling under acute shortage of manpower. Major wildlife sanctuaries like Ramnagar sanctuary in Jammu and world famous Dachigam National Park do not have reasonably sufficient number of manpower? We urge the Government to pay their preferred attention towards this vital natural wealth of our State and act fast to address the issues affecting the performance of the Forest Department and its wings.