J-K govt mulls use of drones, mobile apps for real-time surveillance for forest protection

Jammu, Feb 26 (PTI) The Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday laid stress on the use of drones and mobile apps for real-time surveillance for conservation, protection, and regeneration of forests in the union territory.

Chairing the 19th meeting of the steering committee of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam stressed the use of IT tools in the preparation of thematic digital maps like GIS, GPS, ICT equipment, and use of drones and mobile apps.

“These interventions can potentially increase the qualitative output of the department’s efforts towards forest conservation, protection, and regeneration,” he added.

He also informed about initiatives taken to protect forest areas through the digitisation of boundaries, undertaking fire vulnerability mapping and using IT tools in forest damage reporting by field functionaries.

Reviewing the implementation of special projects, the chief secretary directed the department to focus on catchment area treatment of the Wular lake, rehabilitation of the Tosamaidan, and stabilisation of slip areas on the NH-44 especially in the Ramban-Banihal section.

He also asked the department to take up peripheral plantation in pockets of land around industrial estates, roads, and public buildings, including schools, besides, developing city forests in both the divisions.

The department has picked up pace in work execution which was subdued due to the COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions, and has so far treated 8,458 hectares of area, installed 30.80 lakh fencing, planted 42.10 lakh saplings, and produced 24.58 plants in nurseries, the officials were informed.

The Social Forestry Department has constituted 3,500 village panchayat committees to promote public participation in plantation and maintenance drives.

The Forest department is also undertaking path-breaking low-cost innovations in forest regeneration through the use of seed balls, an official spokesperson said.

The committee approved the annual plan of operations (APOs) for the year 2021-22 with an outlay of Rs 233 crore for J&K Forest and allied departments. The approved APOs envisage afforestation of 13,926 ha area with the planting of 74.47 lakh plants, the spokesman said.