J&K Forest Research Institution San Research || by Bhushan Parimoo || LIVE IMAGE

 A flight of imagination of highest order was echoed. In the 5th meeting of the Board of Governors (BOG) Jammu and Kashmir State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) on 21 1st of June 2016 at Srinagar. Wherein loft claims presented all in rosy colours. Choudhary Lal Singh Minister for Forest, Environment and Ecology chaired the meeting. 

And naturally played the orchestra for which he is known. And others those present as were supposed to listen did it so. Participants were Vice-Chancellor, Shere-i-Kashmir University of Agriculture Science and Technology-Jammy (SKUAST-J) Pradeep K Sharma, the then Principal Secretary Forests, R K Gupta, Principal Chief Conservator, Forests, A K Singh, the then Chief Wildlife Warden, Kashmir, Deepak Khanna, the then Director Social Forestry, Suresh Chugh, the then Director State Forest Research Institute (SFRI) Suresh Gupta. Wherein ambitious targets were set. 

Meeting held after gap of three years as said.
Question arises why only four meeting in 24 years of its existence. What for is the Board of Directors. They have created the mess under which this institute is reeling.Need is to hold them responsible and proceed.Mr Singh called for devising a comprehensive plan to develop adequate number of green pastures across the State. He directed SFRI officials to upgrade their nurseries and set a target of planting one crore saplings which would help Jammu and Kashmir to turn greener. 

The Minister assured SFRI officials that additional staff would be provided to achieve the target. He further said that among these one crore saplings, the SFRI should plant 20 per cent fruit nurseries. 

Singh also stressed on developing barren lands, preferably near populated localities, for producing fodder based plants and special species of grasses suiting the climate, which are useful for catering to local needs. Mr Singh directed digitization of Forest land and asked for regular patrolling of Forests by FPF guards. Emphasis was made for upgrading the seed testing laboratories, nurseries, germination units, green houses. 

He said that scientific methods should be adopted to carry out functions of the department. As a person from rural orientation where soul of the state lies. His line to action plan no doubt had been perfect in tune on ground realities.That is need of the hour and neglected to the hilt. It appears Choudhary Lal Singh talked and others gave him a solace ear. Proceedings were made public through Media with glaring highlights.

This writer has been forced to ponder as a commoner. Why thread bare discussion was not taken across the table. If it had then why corrected measures has not been initiated. Because the very ingredients requires to research are not there. Neither Scientists, not laboratories to conduct research. Institution is asking repeatedly for about 40 number of scientist to conduct research work since day one. 

Even after 25 years the basic requirement is not redressed. What at present is Singh Board moderate structures to carry ministerial job and a few officers to make believe that a Forest Research Institute do exists in the state as well. That is all to write home about. Research
is not like a instant Coffee Making machine. 

It takes years, even decades to understand the behavior of Flora and Fuana. Nature on the this Planet is researcher unsurpassed which from the start of evolution is carrying consistent research. And still continues relentlessly the process only one needs temperament to fathom. Every moment we come across new finds. 

Readers may like that it was 1989 Bansi Dhar states ace Agrostoslogist was deputed to News land to study Alpine Grasses there.He made a point to meet Dr John Wilkinson from
the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research New Zealand who was working on Willow for years. Interaction revealed has been carrying research on it for about 25 years.That is how research is carried. 

Jammu and Kashmir State Forest Research Institute (SFRI was baptized in march 1990 .Records show it has failed to kindle the fire Ab initio . Thus growth is as medically called retarded one. Because of inherited deficiencies but curable. Envisaged to be the apex level institute in the Forest Research. Subsequently was converted in to an autonomous organization, registered under Jammu and Kashmir Societies Registration Act. VI of 1998 (1941 A.D) in 1995.

Why and what for a full fledged government Department was made a NGO. 

Who initiated the proposal and got it approved is quite intriguing. Again the moment it got registered as a Society and declared an autonomous Organization.

Why it was allowed to dovetail it to the Forest Department. 

Why exchequers finance it when it has served its links with the parent department. 

Why it has not raised its resources ,authorities fumble with words to provide any cogent reason except pass on the buck on their predecessors.

 Government should come out with a clear cut policy either delink this Research Institute from Society status or let it grow of its own between two stools it is always a fall and that has been experienced so far. Since march 1990 till date Institute has been headed by about 22 Directors. Pushker Nath Pandita the first one and In between the present Director Shri B.M.Sharma 20 figure in the list.

 All belonged to Indian Forest Service. Barring last two in the list present one and his predecessor has just months sting. As such fairness calls not to club them with others. Dismal deliverance of the Apex Institute put this Service in pale colors. Cursory view of the Directors make observers wonder. Why they failed to deliver .Because from one to 22 all have been finest officers with unmatched acumen. 

And out of 22 Directors 18 are from the state with rural background. Even entire career served in the state from one corner to the other. Knew what forest looked like what commoner wants or drives from forest. Above all measure to be taken for sustainability. Strangely it was outside PCKappor in his every pore has been concern for the forest and born rebellion. who stressed to create about 34-43 posts of the scientist to make it an compatible Research Institution. 

He was summarily shown the door. Dr CM Seth during his tenure in 2007-08 did extensive tours of far flung area where rare fauna still existed like Gurez and other areas .He had an idea to make the state an another Jadi Buti state on the pattern of the Uttrakhand which has declared the state a Jadi Buti Pranat. Suresh Gupta brought on the very onset after assuming the charge in to the notice of Choudary Lal Singh the need to create fill the post of the scientists a prerequisite for research and was in agreement. But again history repeated. 

Now B.M. Sharma the present incumbent may deliver subjected to making available bare minimum scientist . And all IFS cadre which are united for furtherance of their own interests Hold regular meetings to safe guard their cadre .Kept aloof for this cause. 

Every Director were in agreement to the action plan envisaged which has covered every aspect of environment issues under Sky. Without giving a thought for a minute can it be delivered .Memorandums of activities such as Objective , Vision, Mission, Mandate, Business Transaction, Services Provided and Research Priorities. Were of a tall order.

Surmountable but San zeal proved a far cry. It seem it was under the doctrine after me the deluge. Research Priorities.To start with it drew an action plan as to conduct advance studies and research in forestry, wood science, biodiversity conservation, technology transfer and forest environment and ecology including flora and fauna. 

Conduct research on aspects of forestry related issues, concerns and opportunities. Provide technical assistance to sister departments of forests department as well as other organizations/NGOs or on subjects related to forests. Recommend afforestation techniques, know how of raising plant species, provide quality seed and planting materials would become a premier institute for research in the field of plants in coming years.

With special emphasis on Quality seed and plant production. Research & field trials for provenances and clones. Establishment, maintenance of preservation plots & sample plots for research studies. Establishment of Seed Production Areas, Seed Orchards & Clonal Orchards for planting material & quality seed production.

Documentation of bio-diversity resources in different bio-geographic zones. For prioritizing the forestry research activities of the state, has finalized the research problems and research themes, associating the officers of all levels of forest department, including senior retired officers in June 1998.

Some important research problems of the state, as shortlisted in order of priority, are given as: Natural regeneration of Fir, Deodar, Chir, Kail, Taxus, Oak, Khair etc. Eco-restoration of degraded forests. Biodiversity assessment, conservation & utilization. Planting stock improvement of Chir, Deodar, Sissoo, Fir, Khair, Harar and other important species. Seed collection, storage and testing of important species. 

Development of agro-forestry/social forestry models. Management of grazing (including grassland management). Nursery techniques of important species including Non- Wood Forest Products (NWFP). 

Soil and water conservation (including integrated watershed management). Human resource management problems of forest department. Institute has about 23 Nurseries for conducting Research and Seed Development in entire state covering an area of about as said 45 Hatts.

Kashmir Division 10 nurseries and Jammu Division has 12Some are under Research Forest Division .And some under Seed Development Division. Covering a cumulative area of about 45 Hatts. Ranging as little as 2.5 Kanal to plus 20 Hetts. 

One out of it is said to be carrying activities with BGSB University Rajouri. Ladakh Division which is the largest area and Gurez has remained unexplored and untapped though it carries one of the richer flora and fauna. May add To be fair like to add B.M.Sharma has done very commendable job during his tenure as DFO Leh decades back.

 Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
(Feedback at: blparimoo@gmail.com)

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