Jammu, Jan 11: On December 30th, 2019, the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Prakash Javadekar released the biennial “India State of Forest Report (ISFR)”, in New Delhi and announced that the forest cover in the country has increased by 3,976 square Kilometres (sq km). As per the report, the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir too contributed in increasing the green cover by figuring among top five States/UTs recording highest increase.
The report by Forest Survey of India (FSI) comes after every two years and the 2019 report is 16th such report by the organization whose primary job is to conduct survey and assessment of forest resources across different states.
Remote sensing based forest cover assessment in a periodic manner helps in knowing a broad trend of forest cover in the country. The forest cover broadly signifies the expanse of forest resources.
As per the present assessment, the total forest and tree cover of the country is 80.73 million hectare which is 24.56 percent of the geographical area of the country and as compared to the assessment of 2017, there is an increase of 5,188 sq. km in the total forest and tree cover of the country. The total carbon stock of the country was estimated at 7,124 million tons, which is an increase of 42.6 million tons from the last assessment. With the focused attention and the hard efforts of the Department of Forests, Environment and Ecology, the Forest cover in Jammu and Kashmir has also increased and as per the ISFR-2019, the area under very dense forest category has also grown this time, the report revealed.
Jammu and Kashmir managed to be among the top five States/UTs that have registered maximum increase in forest cover during the last two years. The State/UTs showing significant gain in forest cover are Karnataka (1,025 sq km), Andhra Pradesh (990 sq km), Kerala (823 sq km) and J&K (371 sq km including 348 sq km in UT of J&K and 23 sq km in Ladakh UT).
The report further said that the forests of J&K have recorded the highest growing stock of wood per unit area, which is 144.16 cubic meter per hectare. The total carbon stock of forests in UTs including ‘Trees outside Forests’ is 390.20 million tonnes (1430.73 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent), which is 5.48 percent of the total forest carbon of the country.
ISFR-2019 revealed that the extent of forest cover and the trees outside the forests in UT of Jammu and Kashmir is 29,066 sq km, which is 55 percent of the total geographical area of UT of J&K.
A total of 42 forest types are found in the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, which are highest in the country and denotes the diversity of forest ecosystems in J&K.
The two UTs have so far notified 15,912 sq km under the Protection Area Network (PAN) which is 15.59% of the total geographical area of the combined UT, comprising five National Parks, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries and 35 Conservation & Wetland Reserves. The FSI report said that the Protected Area (PA) network of the two UTs is the highest in the country in terms of area, which is nearly 10 percent of the country’s PA network. Jammu and Kashmir has recorded the highest diversity of herbs in the country. The last study had shown that in J&K the area under very dense forest cover had grown by 14 sq km only which now has grown by 206 sq km which shows that area under very dense forest cover has increased the maximum.
In tune with the Government of India’s vision of Digital India, FSI’s assessment is largely based on digital data whether it is satellite data, vector boundaries of districts or data processing of field measurements. In this report, Ortho-rectified LISS III satellite data has been used for forest cover mapping due to its better positional accuracy as it removes effects of image perspective (tilt) and relief (terrain) and scale distortions in the image to represent features in its true positions for accurate measurement of distances, angels and areas.
The forest cover assessment reflects, in general, the status of forests in the country and its trend and provides inputs for broad evaluation of the forests related policies, legislations, programs and activities in the country.
The department of Forests is making continuous efforts to enhance quality of forest cover and improve ecosystem services from forest lands, including moderately dense forest cover, open forest cover and degraded grass lands.
The increase in the forest cover recorded by the FSI Report is the outcome of consistent reforestation efforts including mega plantation drives by the department and effective implementation of Forest related schemes. The afforestation activities are being promoted at every level by utilization of CAMPA funds and with improved techniques in challenging environment.
The way Forest Department is moving ahead, hopefully the ISFR Report that is to be prepared in 2021 would see further increase in forest cover in the Union Territory of J&K.
Grassroots democracy:It is raining sops for Panches and Sarpanches in J&K
Srinagar, Jan 17: From insurance cover to paid holiday, Jammu and Kashmir government has gone all out to open purse strings for Panchayat representatives in the Union Territory.
At least 35 Sarpanches from the Union Territory are on a 10 day tour of Maharashtra and Gujarat since January 10.
“We (Sarpanches) are being taken to various cities. We will also get to know how the Panchayati Raj system works there,” said one of the Sarpanches, who is part of the tour.
An official of Rural Development Department said the second leg of tour for Sarpanches would start from January 23. “Centre has directed J&K administration to strengthen the Panchayati Raj system in the Union Territory. Organizing tours is part of providing additional incentives to Sarpanches,” he said.
Similarly, over 40,000 Panchayat members are being brought under the insurance cover in Jammu and Kashmir at par with government employees.
“The demand was raised by a group of Sarpanches and Panches who met Union Home Minister Amit Shah in September last year. Following which, Centre told J&K administration to take all measures in this regard,” the official said.
Sources said J&K administration is finalizing modalities for providing life insurance cover to the Panchayat Raj representatives. “Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam has held several meetings with Financial Commissioner Finance Department and authorities of Rural Development Department. Discussion is going over amount of risk cover and the premium,” sources said.
Sources said once the process is finalized, government would float tenders for engaging insurance company. “Centre believes that insurance cover would provide a sense of security to Panchayat members,” they said.
Filling the political gap, government has also decided to treat Panchayat members and councilors as ‘VIPs’ on Republic Day celebrations in Kashmir. As per official documents, district development commissioner Srinagar has been directed to prepare a list of invitees.
“Invitees shall include VVIP and VIPs. They include chairperson of BDCs, Panches, Sarpanches and councilors,” the document reads.
Earlier, leaders of political parties were being invited as VIPs. Centre, as part of its initiative to empower around 40,000 elected local representatives in J&K, had earlier enhanced the financial powers of Panchayats 10-fold from Rs 10,000 to Rs 1 lakh, and that of block councils from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh.
There are 21 departments including Rural Development, Social Welfare, Health, Education, Power, Horticulture, Fisheries and Agriculture, which come under the administrative control of Panchayat members, the official said.
Polls to nearly 13,000 gram panchayats likely in Feb
New Delhi, Jan 17: The elections to the nearly 13,000 vacant posts of panch and sarpanch in gram panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir is likely to be held next month and a notification is this regard is expected to be issued on January 25, officials said on Friday.
If the polls take place, it will be the first elections in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state into union territories in August last year.
The elections to about 13,000 vacant posts of panch and sarpanch in gram panchayats is likely to be held next month and a notification is expected to be issued on January 25, a Home Ministry official said.
The entire election process is expected to be over by February end.
The posts were lying vacant since November last year when the elections to the local bodies were held.
Out of Kashmir”s 20,093 panch and sarpanch seats, more than 12,500 seats have remained vacant since then.
The announcement to the polls is likely to come amidst the visit of 36 union ministers to Jammu and Kashmir beginning Saturday.
The 2018 polls to the local bodies had witnessed poor participation with two major regional political parties — the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) — boycotting it.
LG reviews Jammu lake project, says admin will expedite works
Jammu, Jan 17: Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu reviewed the progress of a number of projects in the winter capital of the Union territory on Friday and said the administration will expedite the works.
He visited the market place and tourism reception centre to assess the facilities there. During a visit to the Tawi river bank the L-G was briefed by Ajeet Sahu, the principal secretary of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department, about the progress of its beautification project and the Jammu lake project.
During his visits, Murmu was accompanied by top divisional-level officials and heads of departments.
Asserting that the administration was trying to expedite the projects, the L-G said, “We don”t know what had happened in the past, but we will carry it from here and see to it that these are completed.”
In June last year, the Jammu and Kashmir government had cancelled GR Infra Projects Limited”s contract for developing the artificial Tawi lake. The administration is set to release fresh tenders to resume work.
A revised detailed project report was framed, according to which Rs 51.57 crore shall be required to complete the project and Rs 4.97 crore to undo the damage caused due to floods till date, officials said.
The project, launched in 2009 by the Congress-NC government, was marred by delays and missed six deadlines before work came to a standstill in 2018.
As per the project plan, an auto-mechanical barrage would be constructed on the river Tawi, one kilometre downstream of main Tawi bridge. This will help create an artificial lake at Belicharana. The 1,500-metre-long and 600-metre-wide artificial lake, a first-of-its-kind here, will give a new dimension to tourism in Jammu city, officials said.
In phase-II of the project, beautification and embankment works are to be taken up under Tawi River Front Development Project for which an MoU has already been signed by Jammu Development Authority (JDA) with the Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation.
Before beginning the tour Murmu paid obeisance at the famous Raghunath temple in the morning.
SSF guarding LG strengthened with intake of 19 more cops
Press Trust of India
Jammu, Jan 17: The special security force (SSF) guarding Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Girish Chandra Murmu has been strengthened with induction of 19 more police personnel and support staff, officials said.
As per the order issued by Special Secretary, Home Department, Shakeel-Ur-Rehman, 13 personnel including three officers and six police staff have been sent on deputation with the SSF with immediate effect on Thursday.
This step has been done to strengthen the security cover around the L-G, they said adding that the force will now have a total of 80 well-trained officers.
In 2018, the then State Administrative Council (SAC) of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir had approved a bill for setting up the force for providing proximate security to the governor.
The bill, which was later given approval, contains provisions related to the constitution and regulation of a separate security force in the state for providing proximate security to the governor, members of his immediate family and matters connected therewith.
Those posted with the SSF, like their counterparts in the SSG, have commando training.
The legal framework related to constitution and regulation of a separate security force in Jammu and Kashmir for providing proximate security to the chief minister, members of his immediate family and other connected matters is contained in the Jammu and Kashmir Special Security Group (SSG) Act, 2000.
The SSG, which was set up in 1996 after the National Conference president Farooq Abdullah came to power, will continue to provide security to the chief minister and the former CMs.
The SSG at present provides security to four former CMs including Farooq Abdullah and Omar Abdullah of the National Conference, Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP and Ghulam Nabi Azad of the Congress.