Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur while presiding over the 9th meeting of Himachal Pradesh State Board for Wildlife held here today said that better coordination between development and conservation of ecosystem was the need of the hour.
Chief Minister said that being a Himalayan State forest plays a major role in the maintenance of ecological balance, the State Government was laying special emphasis on afforestation in the State. He said that the target has been fixed to plant about 1.20 crore saplings during the current year. He said that the forests of the State comprises of rich biodiversity and apart from providing fodder, timber and medicinal plants to the local community, the forest also was home to a large variety of wildlife. He emphasized the need for ecological balance for well being of humanity.
Jai Ram Thakur said that 15 percent of the geographical area of the State falls under a protected area network. He said that there were five national parks, 25 wildlife sanctuaries and 3 nature conservation reserves in the State. He said that the State Government was strictly enforcing the Wildlife Conservation Act in the State to protect various endangered species. He expressed happiness over the success of the captive breeding of Tragopan.
Chief Minister said that endeavors would be made to develop the Pong Dam reservoir as a major tourist attraction keeping in view that a large number of migrated birds visit the wetland every year which makes it a bird watchers paradise. He said that the government would ensure that various developmental activities in wildlife areas cause minimum damages to the ecosystem and wildlife. He said that it was our duty to effectively conserve our environment and wildlife as they were vital for a healthy ecosystem.
Jai Ram Thakur appreciated the activities being undertaken by the forest department even during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said that various issues regarding diversion of 2.80 hectares forest land in Shikari Devi Wildlife Sanctuary for up-gradation of existing Thunag Panjut-Lambasafar Chilamgrd – Shikari Mata road would be taken with the appropriate authority. He said that this would help in facilitating the tourists visiting Shikari Mata every year besides the local populace.
Chief Minister also asked the department to take up the matter for diversion of 1.55-hectare forest land in Khokhan wildlife sanctuary for extension of existing Dohranala-Shilirajgiri (Chesta) road up to Lot Rohlagi village in Kullu district.
Forest Minister Govind Singh Thakur said that Protected Area Network has a great potential of ecotourism. He said that Great Himalayan National Park is a world heritage site whereas Pong Dam, Renukaji and Chandetal Ramsar sites were attracting the tourists of national and international levels.
Additional Chief Secretary Forests Sanjay Gupta also addressed the gathering and said that matters approved by the State Wildlife Board will be sent to the National Wildlife Board at the earliest for seeking final approval.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forest cum Chief Wildlife Warden Dr. Savita gave a detailed presentation on various issues of the Wildlife in State and also highlighted the achievements and activities being undertaken by the wildlife wing. She presented the Action Taken Report of the previous meeting before the board members. She also presented the agenda of the 9th meeting of the Board which includes up-gradation and widening of the roads from Thunag to Shikari Mata and Janjhedi-Rajgarh to Shikari Mata both in Shikari Devi Wildlife Sanctuary and the proposal of the road from Dohranala Shiligiraj to Lot Rohlagi. These proposals were approved to send to the NWLB. The house was also apprised on the progress made on the master plan of Shri Renuka Mini Zoo.
Additional Agenda on erecting the High Tension transmission line to the remote village of Shuga was also discussed in detail and approved to be sent to NWLB. Few suggestions related top Pong Dam wildlife sanctuary received from members Arjun Singh and Hoshiyar Singh were also discussed in the meeting.
Four publications on wildlife issues viz. ‘Wetland Birds of Pong Dam’ written by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Dr. Savita, Chief Conservator of Forests Pradeep Thakur and DFO Dadwal, ‘ Snow Leopard-Pride of Himachal Pradesh’ written by retd. APCCF P.L. Thakur and magazine on Lahaul Pangi published under Himalaya Project and Wildlife and Biodiversity Protection in Himachal written DFO Wildlife Naresh Pal Singh Dhaulta was also released on the occasion.
MLAs Arjun Singh, Surender Shourie, Hoshiyar Singh and Balbir Verma, Principal Secretary Revenue Onkar Chand Sharma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests Ajay Kumar, members of the Board and other senior officers of the State Government were also present in the meeting.
By Yadavindra S.Rana: