Restore 1000 sq km degraded forest area in next fiscal year: CS

Functioning of TAD reviewed

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Feb 21: The Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta today urged the Forest Department to replenish the denuded forest cover, increase plantation outside forest areas and repair the neglected water bodies using both traditional ecological knowledge and modern practices in convergence with the MGNREGA to kickstart a virtuous cycle of good soil health, increased land productivity, food security and improved livelihoods in J&K.
He made these comments in a meeting held to review UT capex of the Forest Department in which Administrative Secretary, forest and other senior officers of the Forest Departments were present.
Urging the department to achieve the target of plantation of 1.3 crore plants set for this year, he said there is also a need to focus plantation in vulnerable areas, particularly on the highways where green cover can help in slope stabilization and prevent landslides.
Earlier, Commissioner Secretary, Forest, Sanjeev Verma made a presentation on UT capex in which he gave a broad overview of the UT capex during the current fiscal year.
The Chief Secretary directed the department to restore 1000 sq km forest area during the next year in convergence with the funds available under labour component under MGNREGA.
The Chief Secretary directed the department to repair all 3700 ponds within next six months in convergence with MGNREGA.
He said repair and rejuvenation of these ponds will recharge the ground water and improve the whole ecosystem of lives and livelihood in the villages.
Saying that the practice of the people feeding monkeys on the national highways/tourist places has to be stopped, the Chief Secretary said the department needs to improve enforcement thorough heightened vigil and imposition of fines to deter people from doing so as it causes unnecessary accidental deaths of monkeys.
Meanwhile, Dr Mehta chaired a meeting to review the functioning of the Tribal Affairs Department.
The Administrative Secretary, Tribal Affairs Department, Director Tribal Affairs Department, and concerned officers of the Department participated in the meeting.
The Chief Secretary was apprised about the deficient mobile/internet connectivity and limited availability of health facilities at higher pastures and dhoks. The Chief Secretary directed the Department to ensure mobile and internet coverage of all tribal habitations, besides, establishment of teleconsultation medical facilities specifically in dhoks; within 6 months. It was further directed that the local youth is provided with adequate first-aid training to tackle emergency situations, besides ensuring primary health care facilities at base camps, in consultation with the National Health Mission.
Dr. Mehta emphasized on holistic development of the community and directed initiation of slew of measures to be accomplished in a time-bound manner. It was decided that intensive efforts will be undertaken for saturation of aadhaar cards, golden health cards, bank accounts, besides ensuring vaccinations of livestock.
The Department was also given the target of doubling income of the tribal population by focusing on integrated development of wool, milk, and forest-based industries. The Department was further asked to complete the pending FRA cases within three months and ensure the formulation of TSP by all departments within one week.
Moreover, Dr. Mehta impressed upon the Department to prioritize skilling of tribal youth through the network of youth clubs and asked Mission Youth to exclusively provide gainful employment opportunities to the eligible youth from tribal areas for which Rs. 10 crores will be specifically earmarked. The Department was also asked to promote tourism in tribal areas by roping in various stakeholders.
To promote education among the targeted population, the Department is establishing Eklavya Model Residential Schools in Anantnag, Kulgam, Gurez, Kotranka, Rajouri and Mendhar which will commence operations from April 2022.
On the occasion, the Chief Secretary also launched the departmental scholarship portal for streamlining the disbursement of scholarships to tribal students. With the launch of the portal, Rs. 12 crore were disbursed to the eligible beneficiaries though DBT by the Chief Secretary. The Department is providing scholarships to more than 2.02 lakh students from the tribal community.