The State Administrative Council (SAC) which met under the chairmanship of Governor, Satya Pal Malik accorded sanction to the devolution of powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions for undertaking various Social Forestry activities to improve the forest-based resources for people and livestock, converting wasteland into small village wood lots/strips, raising windbreaks/shelterbelts in vulnerable areas etc.
SAC approved the devolution of powers to Panchayats by the Department of Forest, Environment & Ecology in accordance with the provisions of the Jammu and Kashmir Panchayati Raj Act, 2018 by amending SRO-61 of 1992, SRO-17 of 1999 and SRO-143 of 2011.
The village will be taken as a base unit and concerned Panchayats will act to meet the requirement of the participatory approach of Social Forestry. A village is a micro unit of Panchayat. One Panchayat in J&K covers/supervises about 2-3 villages.
The sites for various afforestation works under all the schemes, wherever feasible/applicable will be identified and proposed in consultation with concerned Halqa Panchayat and Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees. The Sarpanch/Panch (as the case may be) will function as Ex-Officio Chairman of Village Executive Committee of the Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees instead of selection by Village Committee (General Body).
The plans under different afforestation schemes of Social Forestry will be formulated by the concerned Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees in consultation with Halqa Panchayats and Social Forestry Department.
The plants shall be provided by the Social Forestry Department. However, digging of pits and planting will be done through the Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees. It may be emphasized that any need-based/watch and ward/seasonal engagement for social forestry works transferred to the Gram Panchayats will be done by the Village Panchayat Committees. These labourers will be hired exclusively by on day to day basis without creating any liability for the Government.
The monitoring, evaluation and audit of all the works will be done as per the prescribed norms and rules. However, the Halqa Panchayats and Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees shall be involved in inspections and checking of the works. The maintenance and protection of plantation done shall be the joint responsibility of the Forest department and concerned Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees.
The funds for the plantation shall be placed at the disposal of the concerned Village Panchayat (Plantation) Committees by the Social Forestry Department under relevant schemes/sectors.