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J&K Forest Department to use drones and mobile apps for plantation

Last Updated on February 26, 2021 at 6:54 pm

The Chief Secretary, B. V. R. Subrahmanyam today chaired the 19th meeting of the Steering Committee of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to consider the Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) for the year 2021-22.

At the outset, the PCCF apprised the Committee about the steps taken by the Forest Department to make the Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) under CAMPA more systematic, cost-effective and result-oriented.  He also informed about the initiatives taken to protect forest areas through the digitization of boundaries, undertaking fire vulnerability mapping and using IT tools in forest damage reporting by field functionaries.

The Chief Secretary stressed the use of IT tools in the preparation of thematic digital maps like GIS, GPS, ICT equipment, and use of drones and mobile apps for real-time surveillance. “These interventions can potentially increase the qualitative output of Department’s efforts towards forest conservation, protection, and regeneration”, he added.

Reviewing the implementation of special projects, the Chief Secretary directed the Department to focus on catchment area treatment of the Wular Lake, rehabilitation of the Tosamaidan, and stabilization of slip areas on the NH-44 especially in the Ramban Banihal section.

He also asked the department to take up peripheral plantation in pockets of land around industrial estates, roads, and public buildings including schools, besides, developing city forests in both the divisions.

It was informed that the Department has picked up pace in work execution which was subdued due to the COVID-19 Pandemic related restrictions, and has so far treated 8458 hectares of area, installed 30.80 lakh rft fencing, planted 42.10 lakh saplings, and produced 24.58 plants in nurseries. The Social Forestry Department has constituted 3500 Village Panchayat Committees to promote public participation in plantation and maintenance drives.

Further, it was informed that the Department has put in place an effective monitoring mechanism to closely monitor the execution of CAMPA works.  This includes field-level inspections, Departmental Monitoring Committees, hosting of GPS coordinates/polygons on the departmental website, third party evaluation of CAMPA works and involvement of Village Panchayat Committees. J&K CAMPA is also in the process of creating a dedicated CAMPA Portal to monitor progress on a real-time basis.

The Forest Department is also undertaking path-breaking low-cost innovations in forest regeneration through the use of seed balls. The seed balls which can be made with the assistance of various Self Help Groups (SHGs) can be scattered in difficult areas such as mountains, remote areas and muck dumping sites, and do not require special care, soil work, and fencing to promote plant growth. 

After detailed deliberations, the Committee approved the Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) for the Year 2021-22 with an outlay of Rs.233 crore for J&K Forest and allied departments. The approved APOs envisage afforestation of 13,926 ha area with the planting of 74.47 lakh plants. The interventions will include natural and artificial regeneration, plant production, beating up of casualties, forest fire-prevention & control, fodder production & augmentation of pastures, enrichment of economically important and medicinal plants, protection of forest lands, soil & moisture conservation works, social forestry, infrastructure, and capacity building related activities.

For effective monitoring and evaluation of CAMPA works, the Chief Secretary emphasized putting in place a rigorous monitoring mechanism by clubbing and placing suitable number of projects under the supervision of a high-ranking officer. 

Administrative Secretaries of departments of Finance, Home, Animal & Sheep Husbandry, Forest Ecology & Environment, Tribal Affairs, besides, Chairman, SWRRA, PCCF J&K, Director Ecology, Environment & Remote Sensing, APCCF (CAMPA), Regional Officer Chandigarh and senior officers of concerned departments participated in the meeting.