SRINAGAR: Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed Saturday asked the state’s Forest department to adopt locations that can be developed as eco-tourist sites.
Placing high priority on promotion of eco-tourism in the state, Sayeed, who was chairing a high-level review meeting of the department, directed the authorities “to adopt certain locations which can be developed as eco-tourist sites”.
“For this, Bangus Valley in Kupwara district (in north Kashmir) has a huge potential, which the Forest department can tap to develop developing it as a major eco-destination for high-end tourists,” he said.
Tourism is being considered by the ruling PDP-BJP coalition as the main stay of the state’s economy. And to give it a boost, particularly in backdrop of the damages caused by the floods, Sayeed-led government has announced a series of measures, which include offering special packages to tourists and exploring more sites for inclusion in tourism.
Sayeed, during his recent efforts for tourism promotion, stressed on the need to develop eco-friendly sites to attract tourists and to, simultaneously, preserve the environment.
In Saturday’s meeting, he appreciated the measures taken for promotion of eco-tourism in Ladakh, stating, “Similar initiatives need to be taken in other parts of the state”.
Earlier in the meeting, the Chief Minister was briefed about various steps taken by the Forest department to conserve the green gold.
He was informed that the department is laying stress on rejuvenating the 40 per cent degraded forest land and that steps are being taken to save forests from impact of hydropower projects being constructed in the state, especially in Chenab Valley region.
Principal Secretary, Forests, also highlighted the progress the state has made in Compulsory Afforestation Fund Management & Planning Authority (CAMPA). He also presented a detailed overview of the strategy formulated for protection of forests by reconciling records, using modern techniques like GPS and GIS.
The Chief Minister was informed that almost 50 per cent of the timber needs in the state are now being met out of imported supplies. J&K imports nearly 44.5 lakh cubic feet of timber on an annual basis.