Jammu & Kashmir Forest Department organised a One Day Training Workshop on “Forest Fire Management” at Convention Centre, Jammu which was inaugurated today by Sh. Sanjeev Verma IAS, Commissioner/ Secretary to Government, Department of Forests, Ecology & Environment and presided over by Dr. Mohit Gera, IFS, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests & HoFF, J&K with a view to sensitise the PRIs, Urban Local Bodies, SDRF, Department of Fire & Emergency Services and frontline staff of Forest Protection Force and Forest Department on latest forest fire management aspects, preparedness in the upcoming summer season for prevention & control of the forest fire incidences in the ensuing fire season.
Speaking on the occasion, Sh. Sanjeev Verma, Commissioner Secretary, Department of Forests, Ecology & Environment highlighted the role of District Development Councils, Block Development Councils, other Panchayati Raj Institutions and Village Forest Committees for coordinated management in effective prevention and control of forest fires. He stressed on the need of identifying vulnerable forest fire areas for focused forest fire management and deployment of more frontline field personnel for preparedness and for prompt response and control of forest fires. He also emphasised the need of institutionalising some reward mechanism for best performing panchayats and frontline field personnel in prevention and control of forest fires.
He also desired that the department should explore collection of pine needles from vulnerable forest areas which are prone to forest fires for the manufacture of Pine briquettes and stressed the need for imparting professional training to the frontline field personnel on forest fire prevention and control, conduct of more mock drills in vulnerable forest areas and establishment of forest fire control rooms in forest ranges and divisions.
Dr. Mohit Gera gave an overview of Forest Fire Management Challenges and steps taken by the Forest Department in prevention & minimizing the incidences of forests fires. While discussing the forest fire scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, he outlined the forest fire susceptibility as well as the seasonal variations in incidences of forest fires in Jammu and Kashmir. He also highlighted the technology driven approach of the department including vulnerability mapping of the forest fire prone areas, preparation of J&K forest fire manual, procurement of modern fire fighting tools, equipment and launching of Mobile App “Pahredaar” for efficient management of Forest fires. He also emphasized upon the integrated role of stakeholders ranging from local community members, Panchayat Raj Institutions, Forest, Police, Fire and Emergency Services, State Disaster Response Force and Scientific community in dealing effectively with the forest fires.
DFO Jammu, Alok Maurya, presented the field level realities and responses and deliberated on the mechanism of forest fire prevention and control at Forest Division level. BDC chairperson Dansal, Ms. Reena Thapa, highlighted the importance of close coordination between forest department and local community members in forest fire management and emphasised on the need of creation of more water harvesting structures to store water in the forest areas in order to decrease the severity of the forest fires. She also underlined the importance of engagement of seasonal fire watchers preferably from nearby villages for prompt response in control of forest fires.
Representatives from the Jammu and Kashmir Fire and Emergency Services, State Disaster Response Force and Forest Protection Force deliberated on the cooperation provided by them in forest fire control and stressed for the need of coordinated efforts with forest department in forest fire management and capacity building of all stakeholders.
During the technical session presentation regarding GIS based forest fire prevention measures was delivered by B. Mohan Daas, Conservator of Forests, West Circle and Forest Fire Vulnerability Assessment using Geo Information Technology was presented by Majid Farooq Scientist from Department of Ecology, Environment and Remote sensing and DFO Nowshera, Suresh Manda delivered a presentation on “Forest Fire Management Strategies in Jammu Region”. The State Disaster Response Force team and J&K Fire and Emergency Services personnel demonstrated mock drill on safety measures to be adopted in forest fire control operations.
The workshop was attended by Dr. Neelu Gera, Director, Ecology, Environment & Remote Sensing Department/ Director, Social Forestry Department, Sh. Suresh Gupta, Chief Wildlife Warden, Wildlife Protection Department, Sh. Asaf Sagar, Director, Jammu & Kashmir Forest Research Institute, Sh. Frankoi Director, Forest Protection Force, Sh. K. Ramesh Kumar, Chief Conservator of Forests Jammu, Dr. B. Balaji, Chief Conservator of Forests (Planning & Projects), Sh. Samuel Changkija, Chief Conservator of Forests, East Circle Jammu and other senior officers & frontline field personnel of Forest Department & Forest Protection Force, Representatives from Panchayati Raj Institutions, State Disaster Response Force and J&K Fire and Emergency Services.