IT-enabled services to bring transparency, community involvement for forest dev: Advisor

IT-enabled services to bring transparency, community involvement for forest dev: Advisor
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Asks for rationalising timber rates

SRINAGAR: Advisor to Governor, K Vijay Kumar on Monday asked the J&K State Forest Corporation to adopt IT-enabled services to bring more transparency in the working of the corporation besides engaging required machinery to further slash down the cost of timber extraction. He also stressed for community involvement that would help in developing and conservation of the forests in the state.
The advisor, while reviewing the functioning of the J&K State Forest Corporation, said that with the effective internal and external vigilance, the corporation could be strengthened and that more transparent services needed to be introduced for achieving the desired results, an official handout read.
Commissioner Secretary, Forest, Ecology and Environment, Saurabh Bhagat, MD JKSFC Suresh Chugh, Director Finance Forests and other senior officers of JKSFC and Forests Department attended the meeting.
Reviewing the performance of the corporation, Kumar enquired about the details of timber extraction done by the corporation in the recent years and the revenue realised by selling the timber to the consumers. “During 2016-17, 27.09 lakh cft of timber was sold through auction and 41.62 lakh cft was sold in the current year till now,” the handout read adding that the steep increase in the inflow of imported timber has reached to 61.47 lakh cft in 2017-18 in the market which has serious impact on the overall sale of timber by SFC.
MD JKSFC, Suresh Chugh while apprising the meeting about the mode of sale of timber by the corporation informed the advisor that the sale was made to the consumers through open auction, fair price depots in municipal areas of Srinagar & Jammu, fair price depots in Ladakh and by concessional timber sale depots, read the handout further.
After detailed discussions on the number of depots in the state and the rates on which the timber is being sold to the consumers on concessional rates, Kumar asked for “rationalisation of timber rates and to come up with a report on it within a weeks’ time”.
In the year 2016-17, JKSFC has realised the revenue to the tune of Rs 13.98 crore and Rs 19.14 crore in 2017-18 against the sale of 27.09 and 41.62 lakh cft of timber in the state, the handout revealed.
The meeting was apprised of various elements of timber extraction followed by transportation. In order to achieve better results and to bring down the extraction cost, the advisor suggested for using required machinery for extraction and transportation purpose. To have a check on pilferage, he asked for using IT-enabled services with the help of some reputed IT consultants including use of GPS tracking devices.
With regard to the steps taken by the corporation in developing forests, Kumar stressed for utilising the services of experts within or outside the state. He asked for looking out for experts on forests, doing research on forests in the state, and to get inputs to further move in the direction of conserving green wealth, the handout added.