Jammu | :In order to commemorate 75 years of India’s independence under “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav” program, Forest Department organized a series of events under the theme “Celebrating Rivers of India” to ensure maximum public outreach through Jan- Bhagidari (People’s participation) in celebrating the importance of Tawi and Devika Rivers of Jammu region in Jammu and Udhampur Forest divisions.
During the programme, afforestation drive, nature walk and painting competitions were conducted to emphasize the role of rivers and significance of forests in preserving the river ecosystem and hydrological security with active participation of school children and local people involving Urban Local bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions.
In Jammu Forest division, afforestation drive was carried out on the bank of river Tawi in village Dawara in which Commissioner Secretary Forest, Ecology and Environment, Sanjeev Verma, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and HoFF, Dr. Mohit Gera and Corporator of ward number 71, Shama Akhter and senior officers of the department participated and planted Peepal saplings.
During the drive, the dignitaries also launched an initiative envisaging promotion of Peepal and Banyan trees. The locals and Forest officials planted saplings of Peepal and Banyan besides other local species on the banks of Tawi river.
Speaking on the occasion, Sanjeev Verma emphasized that Tawi river is the soul and life line of Jammu and most of the civilization in the world flourishes around the rivers. He said that people’s participation is important in conservation of forests by which the rivers are conserved. He urged upon the people and the forest department to work in close association in this regard. He highlighted that the forests will not only provide clean air and water through its ecosystem services but will also generate source of employment for the local youth.
Dr. Mohit Gera, while addressing the gathering, said that afforestation drive is a step forward of Forest department’s commitment towards making J&K green. He highlighted the importance of Forests as ‘Regulator’ for maintaining water balance in the ecosystem as forests check unregulated flow of water and slowly discharge it into the nearby water sources including rivers.
As a part of celebration, the Urban Forestry Division Jammu organized “Nature Walk” on the bank of Tawi river in Mahamaya city Forest wherein locals, school children from Government Higher Secondary School Bahe Bahu and field staff participated. The participants were also shown the audio visuals of cultural and ecological significance of Tawi river in the ever expanding urban landscapes.
With the aim of ensuring maximum public outreach through Jan Bhagidari, plantation drive was also organized by the Udhampur Forest division at the foothills of Gangera, catchment areas of Devika river, a tributary of Basanter river, also called as Gupt Ganga and known for its religious importance and sanctity.
On the occasion, District Development Council Chairperson, Udhampur, Lal Chand, Chairman Block Development Council, Udhampur, Balwan Singh along with Divisional Forest Officer Udhampur and locals participated in the afforestation drive by planting saplings of Banyan and Peepal. Around 1000 saplings of various local species were planted during the event which saw an active participation of general public, civil society and NGOs.
Speaking on the occasion, Lal Chand and Balwan Singh emphasized the religious and cultural importance of Devika river and appealed the public to plant more and more trees.
DFO Udhampur informed that, as part of week-long celebration painting and essay writing competitions were organised wherein more than 200 students participated from various schools of Udhampur. Besides, nature walk is also being organized as an awareness activity as a part of the event.