August 14, 2008 : Prof. Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister said that Government of India has agreed in principle to accord host country approval to the Bio-Carbon Sub Project of the State Government. He was addressing a State Level Review Meeting of the Forest Department here today.Prof. Dhumal said that the project was submitted under Mid Himalayan Watershed Development Project and was examined by the Designated National Authority of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India. He said that the broad objective of the Bio Carbon, Clean Development Mechanism Project is to sequester green house gases through reforestation on degraded forests, community and private lands. He said that it aims to develop cost effective ways to minimize climate change risks besides providing multiple benefits to poor farmers.
Chief Minister said that the state government was taking effective steps to check monkey menace in the state and added that the state government was devising a plan to sterilize 50,000 monkeys through three monkey sterilization centres during the year. He said that monkey menace was causing inconvenience to both farmers and public and state government was alive to the problem. He said that two more sterilization centres at Hamirpur and Gopalpur would be made functional soon by deputing two doctors and setting up necessary infrastructure for the purpose. He said that one monkey sterilization centre was already functional at Tutikandi, near Shimla. He said that 2131 monkeys had been sterilized till date and added that as per the latest survey there were about 2 lac monkeys, which would be sterilized within three years.
Prof. Dhumal said that effective strategy should be chalked out to check forest fires and added that department should gear up its machinery for containing forest fires which occur mostly during summer months as forest wealth was very precious and state government was committed to protect it. He said that possibilities should be explored to associate local people in the activity and providing them incentives for effective checking of forest fire incidents. He said that participation of local people could bring encouraging results and added that it would make local people take initiative in this direction also.
Chief Minister said that there was about 6288 sq.km area available in the state which could be brought under forest cover and added that state government envisioned a target of bringing 15,000 hectare every year under the green cover. He said that aforestation was very essential keeping in view the grave effects of global warming and added that NGOs could also play a significant role in this area. He said that a suitable policy could be chalked out after considering all aspects to associate the NGOs in plantation activities in the identified area, which could be brought under green cover. He also stressed upon strengthening pasture improvement activities and directed the department to focus upon the area.
Prof. Dhumal said that forest department could support the plantation campaign of Public Works Department and added that nurseries of forest department could provide fruit plants and the saplings identified to be planted on road sides. He said that this would not only add to the beauty of the locations but also attract more tourists. He said that 15 lac saplings were provided by the nurseries of forest department for plantation under Jan-Jan Sanjivani Van Abhiyan during current year and added that department would also grow broadleaved and other species in its nurseries.
Chief Minister said that forest department could contribute in a concrete manner to boost eco-tourism activities in the state and added that trekking routes identified earlier by the department emerged successful. He said that more such trekking routes should be identified by the department in order to give impetus to eco-tourism in the state and added that association of Home Stay Scheme with this could bring about a good response from the tourists. He said that state government was taking initiatives to promote this area in big way.
Chief Minister said that state had great potential for cultivating medicinal plants and added that farmers were being encouraged to grow such plants whose products were in great demand in the national and international markets. He said that forest department had prepared an action plan to bring about 50 hectares of land for growing medicinal herbs.
He directed the department to take effective steps to check illicit felling of trees and to monitor the action being initiated against the guilty persons. He said that forest wealth would be protected at all costs, which were providing direct benefits of Rs. 7740 crore per annum.
He also directed the concerned officers to ensure early disposal of cases which were pending since long besides imparting necessary training to officers to equip them with expertise to deal all related cases. He also assured of sympathetic consideration of various demands raised in the meeting and added that the state government would soon consider to provide a legal expert to guide the department on various legal matters pending in the courts.
Shri J.P. Nadda, Forest Minister said that forestry would be developed in a manner that it supplemented rural and tribal development. He said that the department was preparing projects for rehabilitation of degraded forest lands, village common lands and waste lands for funding from Centre and World Bank which would further strengthen the forestry activities in the state. He said that the staff of the department would be imparted training to enable them to upgrade their skills. He said that participatory approach would be the basis for all forest schemes.
Shri Avay Shukla, Additional Chief Secretary, Forests detailed out the activities of the department.
Smt. Asha Swaroop, Chief Secretary, Shri Bhim Sen Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Shri B.K. Aggarwal, Secretary to Chief Minister, Shri Pankaj Khullar, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and senior officers of the forest department were present in the meeting.