Amritsar, October- To mark the Wildlife Preservation Week 2011, Punjab Forests and Wildlife Preservation Department organized a State Level Function at Government Medical College, here today. Sh. Arunesh Shakir, Hon’ble Minister of Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, was the Chief Guest on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion Mr. Shakir emphasized the importance of protecting forests and wildlife for sustenance of life on this planet earth and appealed to the people to extend their whole hearted support to the noble cause of Wildlife Conservation. He informed that the government has allowed free entry for all in M.C. Zoological Park, Chhatbir, Mini Zoo, Patiala and Bathinda in the State during the Week i.e 3.10.2011 to 8.10.2011 so as to arouse interest among the public in general and student community in particular towards wildlife.
While highlighting the achievements of State Government in wildlife conservation, the Minister further stated that 13 Wildlife Sanctuaries have been established in the State where scientific management of wild animals is being done by the department. This year Rs. 1998.72 lacs has been approved under PUNCAMPA Scheme through which habitat improvement works in the Wildlife Sanctuaries, water arrangements for wild animals and fencing of Protected Areas shall be carried out. He further stated that Rs. 30.00 lacs has been earmarked in PUNCAMPA scheme for purchasing new vehicles in order to carry out rescue and rehabilitation of strayed wild animals. The Minister said that the Chief Minister, Punjab has very kindly given his consent to provide monetary relief in the form of compensation to those farmers whose crops are damaged by wild animals. He announced that the victims of snake bite shall also be eligible for monetary relief. In case the person dies due to snake bite, Rs. One lac shall be paid as compensation to him.
The Minister said that Punjabis are also the custodians of one of the rare and endangered species of Indus River Dolphin in Harike Lake and Beas River. Punjab’s avifauna contributes 37% of total Indian avian species of the nation. Mr. Shakir further said that Chief Minister Punjab is a keen wildlife lover and under his inspiration and guidance, a Deer Safari is being setup in Bir Talab Block Forest Bathinda. The Central Zoo Authority, New Delhi has already accorded approval for this project.
Earlier, the Minister alongwith Mr. Navjot Singh Sidhu, Member Parliament flagged off an awareness rally for wildlife conservation. They released a souvenir to mark the occasion. The exhibitions of the photographs of wild animals and birds as well as of other departments were major attractions of the function.
Mr. D.S. Bains IAS, Financial Commissioner, Forests and Wildlife Preservation was special guest on this occasion. He highlighted the Government plans for biodiversity and wildlife conservation in the State. He said that the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Promotion Board under Eco-tourism Project has provided financial assistance to Mini Zoo Bir Talab Bathinda and Chhatbir Zoo for developing drinking water facilities, urinals, sign boards etc. He said that the special state plan scheme of Rs. 632 lacs has been formulated in the State for the conservation, management and development of wildlife. Under this scheme, new animals will be brought in Chhatbir Zoo and other zoos of the State. The capacity building of the staff will be carried out. The wildlife training will be imparted to the field functionaries of the department. The arms, uniforms and other infrastructure will be provided to the staff.
Sh. Gurbaz Singh IFS, Chief Wildlife Warden, Punjab while addressing the gathering, presented a brief report of the achievements of the Wildlife Wing. He informed that the department has initiated census of wild animals in all the Protected Areas of the State. A new bird sanctuary in Nangal and Rakh Sarai Amanant Khan Conservation Reserve in district Amritsar has been declared. In order to elicit public participation in the activities of wildlife development, the management plan of India’s first Community Reserve at Keshopur has been prepared with the technical cooperation of Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun and the Keshopur Chhamb Community Reserve Committee has been constituted. He further said the department is regularly in touch with tourism department to implement eco-tourism policy in the State and has designated Chhatbir Zoo, Nangal Bird Sanctuary, Keshopur Wetland, Harike Ramsar site, Ropar Wetland as eco-tourism sites. He also emphasized upon the need for scientific management of wildlife for getting sustained and perpetual benefit to the society.
Mr. Bishamber Das, Chief Parlimentary Secretary Forest, Er. Shwait Malik Mayor, Mr. Anil Joshi, MLA, Mr. Vir Singh Lopoke and Dr. Baldev Raj Chawla both Chairmans, Mr. Sanjeev Khanna, Chairman Improvement Trust, Mr. Rajat Aggarwal Deputy Commissioner and Senior officers of the department of Forests and Wildlife Preservation including Mr. B.C.Balla, Principal Chief Conservator Forests, Punjab, attended the function.