Chief Minister, Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu addressed the three days 12th Annual Workshop of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) assisted Forestry and Natural Resource Management (NRM) Projects held in Shimla today. While speaking virtually from Dharmshala, he highlighted the importance of increasing the green cover in Himachal Pradesh and said that currently, the state has a green cover of about 28 percent and the goal was to raise it to 30 percent by 2030.
He said that the JICA-funded Forestry and NRM Projects have been instrumental in enhancing the green cover to achieve this objective. Plantation has been done on more than 4,600 hectares of land have been covered with the help of advanced techniques and technological interventions over the past two years. The projects have also focused on developing nurseries and improving planting stock with an aim to produce over 60 lakh quality seedlings of various useful species for community and forestry purposes. Additionally, the modernization of 72 nurseries across the state is underway, Sh. Sukhu said.
The Chief Minister acknowledged the significant role of forests in an agrarian state like Himachal Pradesh, where the population heavily relies on forest resources for their livelihoods and ecosystem services. He emphasized the need to preserve and enhance forest wealth, especially in the context of global concerns over climate change and the search for environmentally friendly solutions.
The Chief Minister commended the project's efforts in strengthening joint forest management activities through the formation of 460 Village Forest Development Societies (VFDS) and over 900 Self Help Groups (SHGs) across seven districts. The project has also prioritized skill upgrading and capacity building for forest-dependent communities and forest field staff. More than 15,000 individuals have been trained in livelihood activities and forest regeneration with the aim of minimizing the risks posed by climate change and related disasters, he said.
Expressing the government's commitment to green and sustainable development of the state, the Chief Minister stated that making Himachal Pradesh a Green State is one of the key pillars of the new state government’s agenda. The state government has launched several initiatives in this regard and expects them to yield positive results in the future. He said that the JICA-funded project aligns well with the state's vision for a Green State.
The Chief Minister asked the forest department to begin preparations for the second phase of the project, ensuring that areas not currently covered are included.
Agriculture Minister Chander Kumar, Chief Parliamentary Secretary Kishori Lal, MLAs Sanjay Rattan, Bhawani Singh Pathania, Kewal Singh Pathania, Malender Rajan were present in Dharmshala along with the Chief Minister.
While Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Sunder Singh Thakur, Chief Representative JICA India, Saito Mitsunori, Chief Secretary, Prabodh Saxena, Principal Secretary Forests, Onkar Chand Sharma, PCCF (HOFF), Rajeev Kumar, Senior Representative JICA India, Watanabe Jun, Chief Development Specialist JICA India, Vineet Sarin, Chief Project Director, Nagesh Guleria were present in Shimla on the occasion amongst others.