Shimla: To restore depleting grasslands and meadows, the forest department has chalked out programs for augmenting the productivity of grazing lands including alpine pastures through introduction of better quality nutritious grasses and legumes and eradication of obnoxious weeds and shrubs.
Presiding over a state level Grazing Advisory Committee, JP Nadda forest minister said that invasion of grazing pastures by weeds such as Lantana, Parthenium and Congress grass were reducing the carrying capacity of grazing lands both in alpine zones and lower Shivalik hills. This was causing major problem to the sheep and cattle rearers and was affecting forest wealth, he added.
Attention was being accorded to this problem and measures to control and manage invasive species would be given priority. Suggestions for rooting out the problem were also invited.
To mitigate water scarcity in grazing pastures, the government has accepted the proposal to create 200 â€˜Van Sarovarsâ€™ (small lakes or ponds), this year, said the minister.
Non- official members present in the meeting were asked to submit information of ranges or pastures that were facing acute water shortages. â€œVan Sarovars would be constructed on a priority in such ranges,â€ said Nadda.
The process of issuing permits to the sheep and cattle breeders would be simplified and matter would be considered to fix a uniform ceiling as grazing fee from the sheep rearers and for the cattle.
Speaking on the occasion, Trilok Kapoor, chairman, Wool Federation said that a committee should be formed to eradicate the despicable weeds, especially lantana with the help of NREGA employment program. Measures should be taken to remove encroachments from grazing pastures, he said.
Earlier, Vinay Tandon, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF), spelled out various measures likely to be adopted that matched up with interests of the grazing community.