Govt launches afforestation programme near Pahalgam

Srinagar: Jamu and Kashmir government on Sunday launched a pilot afforestation programme, near the famous tourist resort of Pahalgam, with an aim to restore critically-degraded forests in the state.
In an effort aimed at eco-restoration of the degraded forests, Governor N N Vohra and Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed launched the pilot afforestation programme’ from Frislan area of Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, an official spokesman said.
Addressing a gathering here, the Chief Minister said his concern to revamp the State Forest Policy was to make people living in close proximity of forests equal partners in eco-restoration drives of the government, as they were the vital stakeholders.
“We must inculcate a sense of ownership amongst the villagers as forests provide sustenance to the people living close by,” he said.
Sayeed asked Forest Minister Bali Baghat to conceptualize a plan for creation of an enabling environment, whereby the people living in contiguity of forests are made an integral part of any conservation initiative.
“The Forest Department must conceive a plan, with active involvement of Tourism Development Authorities and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board for Sonamarg-Baltal-Pahalgam stretch to begin with,” he said, adding more steps should be taken for wayside plantations on the nearby picturesque Daksum-Warwan and Aharbal-Kongwattan stretches.
Sayeed said even the Amarnath pilgrims should be encouraged to plant saplings en route the Holy Cave to extend the forest cover and make the journey more enjoyable.
The government has launched this afforestation scheme on a pilot basis in both Kashmir and Jammu divisions, Sayeed said.