J&K Forest Department for the first time observed National Forest Martyrs Day today on September 11, 2020 at Sheikhbagh Forest Complex, Srinagar to pay homage to all the brave forest officers / officials who laid down their lives in protecting the forest and wildlife wealth in Jammu & Kashmir.
Ms. Sarita Chauhan, Commissioner / Secretary Department of Forest, Environment of Ecology in her address said that on this day in the 1730, about 360 people of Bishnoi community laid down their lives to protect the ‘Khejri’ trees in ‘Kejrali’ village of Rajasthan. This is the reason why September 11th was chosen by Govt. of India to be observed as National Forest Martyrs Day. She said that in J&K, the staff of the Forest Department has been facing a lot of challenges especially in the last three decades of disturbance and different kind of vulnerabilities associated with it. She said the rapid urbanization, heavy dependence of locals on forest resources and greed led to the increase in conflict with forest damage doers, criminals, land mafia resulting many a times in the killings of forest officials while protecting forests and wildlife. She said that the forest frontline staff work in remotest corners of J&K under most difficult conditions and execute their bonafide duties round the clock.
Dr. Mohit Gera, PCCF (HoFF) J&K Forest Department during his brief address remembered the supreme sacrifice of all those who laid down their lives while protecting forests, wildlife and other natural resources of J&K. On behalf of the Department, he saluted the bravery of officers/ officials who fought against the forest damage doers. He called upon all forest officials to take a pledge today for protection of our forests and wildlife to ensure ecological security of fragile eco-systems in J&K.
CCF Kashmir S.F.A. Gillani in his address said that a lot of efforts have gone in giving due recognition to the supreme sacrifices of our forest martyrs and further informed that the genuine demands of the forest frontline staff including risk allowance, two and a half day extra salary on police pattern is being addressed at the highest levels in the Govt.
Irfan Ali Shah, Conservator of Forests, Central Circle in his address said the J&K has been one of the toughest places in the country where more that 110 forest officers and on duty forest staff have lost their lives while protecting forests and wildlife. A book compiled by him and his team including DFO Statistics Mr Yasin and others, under guidance of Pr. CCF,J&K dedicated to forests martyrs of J&K “Green Hearts: Protecting Forests and Wildlife” was also released on the occasion.
Among others the program was attended by Vasu Yadav, Managing Director, FDC, Conservators of Forests of Territorial Circles, Regional Heads Social Forestry, Wildlife Deptt, Family members of Forest Martyrs from across J&K, Divisional Forest Officers, Range Officers, Law Officers and Forest officials /office staff.
This was followed by Video conferencing with Honble Union Forest Minister and family members of Forest Martyrs of J&K.