Himachal Pradesh Forest, Youth Services and Sports Minister Rakesh Pathania on Monday called for tapping the eco-tourism potential to provide pollution-free atmosphere to tourists.

After a meeting with senior officers of the Forest department, Pathania said Himachal Pradesh had a lot of potential for eco-tourism because of its green cover which needed to be tapped in an eco-friendly manner. “Tourists will be provided with pollution free atmosphere in eco-tourism sites where tents and other eco-friendly activities like use of solar i.e. green energy would be used,” he added.

He emphasized that the catchment area treatment activities should be done in such a manner that rain water could be retained for a longer time to increase the productivity of the land. “Small water check dams will be constructed in different schemes to check the soil erosion, which is one of the major reasons for the degradation of the forests. Further, the farmers and local community will be encouraged in these activities which would also provide opportunities of employment,” Pathania said.

He further stated that necessary changes will be made in the policy for providing weapons to the field functionary of the Forest department. He emphasized that control rooms be established both at headquarter and field level to monitor various activities of the department.

He appreciated the works done by the wildlife wing in controlling the population of monkeys by massive sterilization efforts at different centers.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and head of Forest Force Ajay Kumar gave a presentation regarding activities and schemes being implemented by the department.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Wild Life Dr Savita also gave the presentation about wildlife wing of the department. Additional Chief Secretary Forests, Sanjay Gupta and other senior officers were also present in the meeting.