STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Tuesday directed the J&K Rural Livelihoods Mission (JKRLM) to launch Van Sakhi Yojana (VSY) in coordination with Forest Department for the socio-economic empowerment of the women entrepreneurs associated with the sector.
Speaking at a function held to commemorate International Day of Forests, organized by Department of Forest, Ecology & Environment at Convention Centre, Sinha also asked the Forests Department and other stakeholders to ensure that policy on ‘Sustainable Utilization of Non-timber Forest Produce in J&K’ is fully operationalized on ground to maximize its benefits to the people, especially women and tribal communities.
The Lt Governor called upon the people for sustainable management of forests and the judicious use of resources to combat climate change and to ensure well-being of all.
“Healthy Forests is the key to Healthy living of people and it should be our topmost priority to safeguard these precious natural resources. Every element produced by nature nourishes us. Since time immemorial, the health and well-being of humans, animals and environment around us are interlinked”, said the Lt Governor. The Lt Governor emphasized on striking a perfect balance between society and environment for a healthy ecosystem and a strong economy.
“Nature is a great source of wisdom. The more we learn from nature, the more we understand that forests are not only an integral part of our existence but also essential for our mental, physical health and well-being. A society that is closer to nature is more prosperous”, the Lt Governor said.
On this International Day of Forests, let us rededicate ourselves to protect nature and conserve forests with the spirit of “One World, One Health”. We must protect and nurture economic, social and environmental values for the benefit of present and future generations, the Lt Governor observed.
The Lt Governor further emphasized on promoting high-value forest produce like Gucci mushroom and Artemisia herbal plant which can be found in abundance in the forests of Jammu Kashmir to bring significant improvement in the quality of life of the forest-dependent population without harming the forests.
The Lt Governor highlighted the efforts made in the last two years for protection of natural resources and for extending economic benefits, livelihood and entrepreneurship opportunities to tribal families.
Under the guidance of Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, a large population of our tribal families dependent on forests have been granted their Forest Rights for which they have been waiting for years, he said.
The Lt Governor asked the Tribal Affairs Department and the districts administration to work in mission mode for granting individual rights under the Forest Rights Act and establishment of Van Dhan Kendras.
He complimented the Forest Department and allied wings for achieving higher targets under “One Beat Guard, One Village” programme under the campaign “Har Gaon Hariyali” and for their forest conservation awareness efforts.
With more than 55 per cent green cover, Jammu Kashmir is ahead of many other states and UTs, the Lt Governor said.
The Lt Governor also gave valuable suggestions for sustainable management of forests.
The Lt Governor said the 2.5 billion population of the world is dependent on forests in one way or the other. From our ancient texts to the latest and greatest invention of Artificial Intelligence Tool, you can find one thing in common i.e the entire universe is made of the five elements (Panch Tatva), he observed.
We must move ahead with the mantra of Panch Karma – the five major goals for the next one year. Non-Timber Forest Produce scheme must encourage associated Self-help Groups and communities to work on conservation of forests and plantation, said the Lt Governor.
Forest-related education in schools and participation of students in plantation drives must be ensured. Van Dhan Kendras and Self-help Groups should be involved in branding and marketing of forest-friendly products, he noted.
The Lt Governor said the inclusion of Panchayati Raj Institutions in Van Se Jal and Jal Se Jeevan program will make a greater impact in our campaign for conservation of natural resources. Further, we have to make the re-forestation campaign a mass movement, he added.
On the occasion, the Lt Governor presented the UT-Level Awards of Forestry & Wildlife Conservation to the frontline staff of Forest and Wildlife Department for their outstanding contribution.
He also felicitated the Village Panchayats for their efforts in the greening of common village lands.
Publications on “Forests for Livelihood” & “GIS-Based Land Use and Eco-System Resource Mapping of Kishtwar High Altitude National park” and “Forest Song” were also released by the Lt Governor.
Earlier, the Lt Governor inspected various exhibition stalls which focused on sustainable utilization of Non-Timber Forest Produce including medicinal, aromatic plants and various technologies.
Dheeraj Gupta, Principal Secretary to Government, Department of Forest, Ecology & Environment; Dr Mohit Gera, Pr. Chief Conservator of Forests / HoFF; other senior officers and people from all walks of life were present on the occasion.