Chief Secretary, B. V. R. Subrahmanyam on Thursday chaired the 18th meeting of the Steering Committee of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) to consider the Annual Plan of Operations (APOs) of Forest and Wildlife Departments for the Year 2020-21.
Commissioner/Secretary, Forest, Secretary RDD, Secretary Horticulture, Secretary Tribal Affairs, Director, Soil & Water Conservation, Director Social Forestry, PCCF J&K, Director Ecology, Environment & Remote Sensing, Chief Wildlife Warden, APCCF (CAMPA), Chief Conservator Forests, Jammu and representative of MoEF&CC, Regional Office Chandigarh and senior officers of concerned Departments participated in the meeting.
PCCF J&K 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 the forest areas through digitization of boundaries, use of mobile applications for fire vulnerability mapping and forest damage reporting by the field functionaries.
APCCF (CAMPA) Sarvesh Rai made a detailed presentation on the functioning of CAMPA, action taken on the decisions taken by the Committee in its last meeting and proposed APOs of the financial year 2020-21. It was informed that since 2010-11, more than 45,000 hectares degraded forest area has been afforested besides 494 ha covered under ‘River Rejuvenation of J&K’ project with a plantation of 331.22 lakh saplings.
It was informed that the Department has put in place an effective monitoring mechanism at various levels to closely monitor the CAMPA works. This includes inspection at field level, Departmental Monitoring Committee, hosting of works and GPS coordinates/polygons of works on the departmental website and third party evaluation of CAMPA works and involvement of Village Panchayat Committees.
After detailed deliberations on all aspects of the proposal, the Committee approved APOs for the Year 2020-21 with an outlay of Rs.149 crore for J&K Forest and Allied Departments and Rs 36.91 crore in respect of Wildlife Protection Department for its submission to GoI for final approval. The proposed APOs of Forest Department envisage afforestation of 13,364 ha area with the planting of 74.50 lakh plants. The interventions proposed include natural and artificial regeneration, plant production, beating up of casualties, forest fire prevention and 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 and use of drones for monitoring of ongoing works in future.
For the management of protected areas, an outlay of Rs 20.12 crore has been proposed for 2020-21 to carry out activities in 3 National Parks, 14 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 30 Wildlife Conservation Reserve and 14 Wetland Conservation Reserves.
Chief Secretary emphasized on putting in place a rigorous monitoring mechanism for concurrent monitoring and evaluations of CAMPA works so as to utilize the funds for the specified activities only. Chief Secretary urged the department to utilize the funds as per the approved APOs and guidelines of CAMPA.
“Plantation should be undertaken under CAMPA funds particularly in the forest areas where forest land has been diverted so as to compensate for the loss. There has to be an organic linkage between the site of forest land diversion and Compensatory Afforestation so as to ensure ecological restoration of the area impacted due to development activities,” Chief Secretary observed.
He also asked the department to take up peripheral plantation in pockets of land as have been identified for development of Industrial Estate in both the Divisions.
Chief Secretary directed the Forest Department to converge its activities with Rural Development Department and involve Village Panchayat Plantation Committees (VPCC) for execution of works through local labour force. He also directed for keeping a provision in the APOs for construction of shelter sheds in the forest areas at specific places for the nomadic population so that they can contribute more in the conservation efforts of forest department.