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SRINAGAR:  On the directions of Governor N.N. Vohra, Chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board is conducting an 8 day Sanitation cum Camp Cleaning Drive in two phases of all the Yatra Camps and along the Tracks. Shri Umang Narula, Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board informed the Governor in a  review meeting held today that the Sanitation Drive will be conducted in two phases: from 16thAugust, 2018 to 19th August, 2018 and 25th August, 2018 to 28th August, 2018.

The cleaning and sanitation operations in the Yatrta Camps will be carried out vigorously under the personal supervision of the Camp Directors, Additional Camp Directors, Deputy Camp Directors and Officers of the Pahalgam Development Authority, Municipal Committee Pahalgam and Sonamarg Development Authority, in their respective areas of jurisdiction, and the representatives of various State Government Departments and Security Agencies deployed in the Yatra Camps. CEO further informed that one NGO, namely “Khalsa Aid” has also volunteered to help in carrying out the sanitation drive during the 2nd phase and will depute their volunteers to the Holy Cave, Panjtarni and Sheshnag Camps for cleaning the camps, including the tracks from Holy Cave to Baltal and Sheshnag to Chandanwari.  Governor was further informed that General Manager (Works), General Manager (Sanitation) and Deputy General Managers on the Baltal and Pahalgam axis, shall visit the various Yatra Camps and both the Tracks to closely monitor the Sanitarian cum Cleaning Drive.

CEO informed Governor that keeping in view its commitment to protect the environment in the Yatra area, Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board had continued to carry out sanitation/ cleaning works right from start of the Yatra.  All plastic and other non-biodegradable wastes is being regularly collected from the Yatra Camps, from the tracks and all along the hill slopes, and brought down to Baltal and Nunwan where these are crushed in the shredding machines specially installed for the purpose. CEO further stated that directed by the Governor the Camp Directors Nunwan and Baltal are devoting special attention to ensure complete cleanliness all along the banks of Lidder and Sind rivers.

Appreciating the good work already done to keep the Yatra Camps and Tracks clean Governor directed CEO to keep a close watch to ensure cleanliness and sanitation in all Camps and along the track and particularly ensure against any waste/ plastic materials being thrown into the water bodies.  Governor further directed that Camp Directors, Additional Camp Directors, Deputy Camp Directors, CEOS of PDA and SDA and the head of each involved Agency should ensure that all bio-degradable and non-biodegradable wastes, including plastic wastes, are disposed off in accordance with the Action Plan already approved by him and the Yatra Camps and Tracks must be totally free from any waste whatsoever at the conclusion of the Yatra on 26th August 2018.

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SRINAGAR: Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam Tuesday chaired the 15th meeting of the Steering Committee of the State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA). The Steering Committee took note of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund (CAF) Rules, 2018 notified on 10th of August, 2018 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India.


After detailed deliberations, the Steering Committee approved an outlay of Rs 62.23 Crore for undertaking conservation & protection works by Forest and Allied Departments and Rs 60.93 Cr by Wild Life Department. Chief Secretary emphasised on effective utilization of CAMPA funds for compensatory afforestation particularly in degraded forest areas, soil moisture conservation, wildlife management, catchment area treatment and increasing green cover outside forests areas. The Forest Department was asked to examine the desirability of setting up Herbal Park in Srinagar like the Tawi Herbal Eco Park In Jammu.


Chief Secretary also impressed upon the Forest Department to only propose such works /activities under the Annual Plan of Operations (APOs), which are covered under CAMPA guidelines to ensure financial discipline and to make it outcome oriented. “The focus should be on maintaining the green cover in J&K, making it a nature lovers paradise” he observed. The Steering Committee also reviewed the contribution of CAMPA towards conservation and restoration of Forests in the State.


It was informed that about 10 Lakh ha in the State is ‘Open’ forest area and around 700 ha is treated annually under the CAPEX Budget and 5000 Ha is treated annually under CAMPA. Further, from the year 2011-12 onwards, under CAMPA, compensatory afforestation has been undertaken on 41,113 Ha, 132 Lakh Rft of forest area has been fenced, 487 Lakh plants have been raised in Nurseries and 300 Lakh saplings have been planted and 30716 demarcation pillars have been installed in the Forest areas.


To ensure safe custody of Forest land records, Muhafizkhaana and ICT Labs have been set up in Jammu and Srinagar. The demarcation record of the forest lands has been scanned and stored on the State Data Centre and uploaded on its website. Coordinates of 1567 plantation units raised during 2010-11 to 2016-17 are available on e-green watch portal of the MoEF & CC, GoI, whereas, Plantation/treatment areas of 2017-18 are in the process of being uploaded on this portal.

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SRINAGAR: Workers hired by Jammu and Kashmir Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to remove water Lilies from Dal Lake on Tuesday complained that deweeding with machines is a wastage of time and money as they fail to remove them by roots, which if left there grow again. “These machines are futile. They cannot reach the roots of the Water Lilies and instead cut them from the top, leaving the roots there,” said a worker. He likened the deweeding machines to ‘trimmers’ saying it serves no purpose if roots are left intact at the bottom of the Lake.


In a demonstration, a ‘Mate’ at the deweeding site near Ghat 22 who showed the  the Kashmir News Bureau crew  around, brought other workers together and showed how better tools they had compared to the machine. “We are the locals and we have grown up on the waters of Dal Lake. We know full well how to get rid of the Water Lilies,” the Mate said, wishing anonymity. “But we can only do that if government is willing to listen to us. If we do it manually with the tools we have, we will clear the lake of all Lilies. Yes, it will take time,” he added.


The other workers at the site in their boats loaded with the trimmed weed and water lilies also voiced their concern. “We are paid a pittance. An amount of rupees 450 is not enough at all. Will we buy food, clothes, or pay children’s school fee with this?” asked another worker standing at the stern of his boat.


Speaking to Kashmir News Bureau, Vice Chairman J and K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, Dr. Abdul Hafiz Shah (KAS) said, “The deweeding process is going on both mechanically and manually.  This is true that machines cannot remove along with the roots. However, whenever we remove water lilies, generally manually, we uproot them so that they do not grow again.

The Vice Chairman about the removal of weeds said, “ Weeds are part of  the Dal Lake so they cannot be uprooted. They function as the breathing lungs for the lake.  The requirement is, from the aesthetic point of view,  to clear them from the surface”. “Last year, we started a major operation and have had good results. This year, we have only 20 percent of Lilies in the area which was manually cleared a year before. And that 20 percent too will be cleared soon,” Shah said.


When asked about the wages of the workers, he said, “When I took over as Vice Chairman last year, I spoke individually to all the workers and was told that because of the mate system in place back then, a worker would only get Rs. 180 to 200 only, and that too not on time. No sooner I took over, I removed the mate system and increased the wages to Rs. 450. If still workers demand that their wages be increased, I will put forward the same before the authority and implement whatever the decision is taken”.