Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department observed National Forest Martyr’s Day-2021 to pay homage to the brave Forest Officers and officials who laid down their lives while protecting the Forests and Wildlife in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and HoFF, Dr. Mohit Gera, IFS presided over the event and released the revised edition of book entitled “Green Hearts: Protecting Forests and Wildlife” dedicated to the “Forest Martyr’s”. On the occasion, J&K Forest Department distributed benevolence cheques of Rs. 1.00 lakh each to the legal heirs /family members of Forest officials who lost their lives while discharging official duty. Those Forest officials who exhibited exemplary courage and got seriously injured while performing their duties were also given benevolence cheques of Rupees Twenty five thousand each on the occasion. The department for the first time also gave “Rewards” for outstanding performance in the field of Afforestation, Forest Protection, Training & Capacity Building and Demarcation related works for the year 2020-21 to the Forest Frontline Force officials. It was also informed that the Govt. has instituted the “State Awards” for the frontline forest officials for recognizing their exemplary work and meritorious services. Speaking on the occasion, the Pr. CCF & HoFF highlighted the importance of the day and said the National Forest Martyr’s Day is observed to pay homage to about 360 people of Bishnoi community who laid down their lives while protecting the “Khejri” trees in “Kejrali” village of Rajasthan on this day in 1730. This day also marks the supreme sacrifice of more than 1500 forest officials across the country for protection of forest and wildlife. He said that the field staff of Forest Department face a lot of challenges while protecting the forest wealth from encroachers, damages doers as well as while protecting the forests from fires and during Human-Wildlife conflict. He informed that the revised updated version of the book on “Forest Martyr’s” will help the people of J&K and new entrants in department to appreciate the exceptional courage and the supreme sacrifice made by the forest officials in protecting of our forest wealth. He also called upon all forest officials to take a pledge today for protection of our forests and wildlife to ensure ecological security of fragile ecosystem of Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr. Sarvesh Rai, IFS, Addl. Pr. CCF/ CEO CAMPA, J&K in his address while highlighting the importance of the day said that forest memorials are being constructed in both Jammu and Kashmir regions including in Forest Training schools to remember the sacrifices of all those martyrs who laid down their lives for the cause of the forests. He expressed his gratitude for the forest martyrs who bestowed the department with the noble legacy of keeping alive its cherished values and rich traditions.
Mr. K. Ramesh Kumar, IFS, CCF Jammu in his address highlighted the difficult conditions under which Forest officials work in the field. He said forest officials face extreme challenges like hard terrain and isolation but despite this, because of their dedicated efforts, the forest cover of J&K is amongst the highest in the country.
Earlier the event commenced with the welcome address by Sh. Irfan Ali Shah, IFS, Conservator of Forests, Central Circle in which he highlighted the saga of sacrifices made by brave Forest officers and officials while protecting the forests with utmost zeal and enthusiasm especially in the last three decades. He mentioned about the martyrdom of around 100 Forest officers and officials of different ranks over the years in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the Forest Department will continue to reach out to the families of Forest martyrs and continue to support them through all possible means in future as well.
All the Jammu based Forest Officers including Heads of Department of sister wings, Chief Conservator of Forests, Conservator of Forests, DFO’s, Range Officers and frontline staff of forest department, personnel of Forest Protection Force attended the emotive event and paid rich tributes to the “Forest martyr’s”. On the occasion, a two minutes silence was also observed to pay homage to “Forest Martyr’s”. Plantation of 81 number of saplings was jointly carried out by forest officers/officials and families of “Forest Martyr’s”, symbolising supreme sacrifices of 81 documented “Forest Martyr’s”. In the end, vote of thanks was presented by Sh. Samuel Changkija, IFS, CCF East Circle.