Shrine Board plants 20 lakh saplings to green Trikuta Hills

Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board is making continuing efforts to conserve the environment and green the Trikuta Hills and the spaces along the Tracks leading to the Shrine. Towards achieving this objective, the Shrine Board has taken up a large scale afforestation programme under which about 20 lakh saplings, including forest, horticulture, floriculture, medicinal and ornamental species have been planted. In 2015-16, 2.90 lakh saplings of different species were planted, including Bamboos, Arjuna, Bauhinia species, Cassia Fistula, Erithrina Indica, Bougainvillea and other soil binder species.
In his report furnished to Governor NN Vohra, Chairman of the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board, AK Sahu, Chief Executive Officer of the Shrine Board, informed that 2.50 lakh saplings of different species of plants will be planted during 2016-17, thus raising the total number of saplings so far planted to more than 22.50 lakh.
The Governor has directed the CEO to carry out timely execution of plantation activities during the ensuing monsoon plantation season and, side by side, take effective preventive measures for any forest fire to be promptly dealt with.
The Shrine Board’s Annual Greening Action Plan includes greening activities, watershed management and forest fire management. GIS based management plan for the entire Shrine Board area is also being prepared for ensuring concurrent monitoring and evaluation of execution of the plan.
To prevent soil erosion and landslides in the Shrine area, engineering and non-engineering works such as construction of check dams, dry stone rubble masonry works, percolation ponds and other steps are also being undertaken by the Forest Wing of the Board.
For securing scientific and productive management of its forest lands, a Forest Wing has been established, which is headed by MK Kumar, an IFS officer, who has been making sustained efforts to enhance the forest wealth in the Trikuta Hills area which fall within the Shrine Board’s jurisdiction.
Kumar informed that several measures aimed at preventing forest fires have been taken by the Forest Wing to effectively prevent and manage forest fires, as per scientifically approved practices. These include creation of fire lines and fire gaps, particularly adjoining Adhkuwari, Hathimatha, Bhawan, Bhairon area, Samkhal Ghati and Banjala Top; removal of lantana weed from the vulnerable areas; and ensuring strict vigil on the ground by undertaking regular patrolling by fire watchers in the forest area of the Board.
Under this initiative, 4.5 kilometre long and 10 metre wide fire lines have been created from Sammat Top to Chinni Kupri and 1.50 kilometre fire line has been created from Himkoti to Guddi Dhar in April-May this year. Pine needles are also regularly collected and buried in the compost pits. These efforts have significantly brought down the number of forest fire incidents which take place year after year.
20 fire incidents took place in 2008; 43 in 2009; 3 in 2010; 2 in 2011; 6 in 2012; 7 in 2013 and 12 in 2014. However, no fire incident took place in 2015, while 8 fire incidents took place
in 2016.
Preventive measures and planned initiatives have helped in bringing down the number of fire incidents to a large extent and whenever any fire incident takes place immediate action is taken to control and extinguish it. The teams of Shrine Board are equipped with the necessary fire fighting equipments, to control fires.

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