Put a noose around encroachers: Altaf

Emphasizing on the need to protect the forest wealth of the state from encroachment, Minister for Forest Mian Altaf Ahmad Tuesday directed the officers of the Forest department to conduct demarcation of forest land in a transparent manner so that encroachment can be curbed at all levels.
The minister was speaking at a high-level meeting to review the functioning of Forest department and State Forest Corporation in Jammu division, here today.
Chief Conservator of Forest, Mr. Abhay Kumar, District Forest Officers, General Managers of SFC, other senior officers of Forest department and SFC of Jammu division participated in the meeting. 
Stating that encroachment will not be tolerated at any cost, Mian Altaf called for formulation of a proper demarcation plan involving greater vigil, proper fencing methodology and involvement of locals. He also called for undertaking computerization of forest land records so that proper upkeep of the available resources is possible.
The minister was informed about the incidents of forest fires reported from Jammu division and the steps initiated to check them by roping in district administration, Forest Protection Force and Social Forestry.
Expressing concern over the spurt in the incidence of forest fires, Mian Altaf directed the DFOs to take stern action against the mischief mongers involved in these forest fires so that the precious green gold is preserved from destruction. He asked them to keep the seasonal fire watchers ready for monitoring the forests in the drier months so as to check such incidences He also assured to take up the decrease in the funds to check forest fires with the Union Forest Minister who arrives in the state shortly.
Reviewing the supply of timber in the region, the minister vehemently stressed upon the officers of Forest department to keep a close liaison with the SFC so that people do not face any timber shortage. He said that far-flung areas of the state need special attention as it is the priority of the government to fetch them all the services at their doorsteps. Going over the alignment problem in areas where Railway and PMGSY works are underway, he asked the SFC to conduct a joint inspection with PWD and Railway authorities so that marking work does not suffer causing delays in the project.  
Regarding shortage in manpower, Mian Altaf said that he is personally taking up the matter of accelerating recruitment process with Public Service Commission and SSRB. 
Calling the DFOs as the real custodians of forests, he exhorted upon them to work with zeal and dedication, adding that the government would lend full support to those who perform their duties efficiently. However, he warned them that if any complaint is received, which raises questions about the credibility of the government and the department, no laxity will be allowed. He also asked them to visit the forest land under their jurisdiction regularly for developing close rapport with the public and ascertain the ground realities.  
Mian Altaf said that the funds allotted to the department should be utilized in a judicious manner and wherever possible visible development works should also be initiated by the department for the benefit of common masses. He was apprised that under National Afforestation scheme, development works are undertaken by the department in coordination with Village Forest Committees
Earlier, in another meeting held at summer secretariat to review the progress of different departments in the Jammu division, the Forest minister directed the officers to ensure that the people of the far-flung and remote areas of the region do not suffer due to lack of basic amenities like power, water, food grains etc, adding that present dispensation’s utmost thrust is on addressing the needs of the common man.
Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr. Pawan Kotwal, Chief Engineer, PHE, Jammu, Director, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution, Jammu, Superintending Engineer, EMRE and other senior officers of different departments attended the meeting.
Mian Altaf directed the officers to accumulate buffer stock of fertilizers, seeds and other essentials before the onset of monsoons so that farmers do not face problems during the Kharief sowing season.  
The minister also issued instructions to ensure regular supply of power and drinking water to the people so that they do not face any inconvenience in wake of soaring mercury in the region.


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