Mangalore, Aug 19, 2014: Delivering the inaugural address at ‘Laksha Vriksha Andolana’ organised by the Department of Forest, in association with various other government departments in Mangalore on August 18, Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment B Ramanath Rai said that clearing of encroached forest lands will not be withdrawn and the government is committed towards the preservation of forest land.
Minister Rai said that objections have been raised on both clearing of encroached forest lands as well as encroachment of the lands. “Also, people being benefited under the Bagair Hukum land allocations, have been demanding diversification of lands to forest lands in urban areas. But, the government is firm on preservation of the forest land.” “At one point of time, the forest department was meant to generate revenue through the commercialisation of forest resources. But, today, the department stands for the preservation of forests,” he said.
It is the concern of the forest department to preserve the vanishing species of plants and animals, Ramanath Rai said and added that more fruit bearing trees will be planted in the forests in future so as to provide food to wildlife so that they won’t encroach into human territories in search of food.
MLC Ivan D’Souza speaking on the occasion said that there is 20 per cent of forest land as against the prescribed percentage of 33, which the government needs to target. he stated that two lakh forest land encroachment cases have been recorded in the state and 1,200 persons had applied for regularisation.
He urged the Forest minister to make afforestation programme mandatory in gram Sabhas and also to make compulsory for high rise buildings, to plant saplings.
Mangalore Circle Chief Conservatory of Forest Dr Sanjay Bijjur, delivering the keynote address said that there is 4.8 lakh hectare forest land in the district. Under Krishi Aranya project, 80,000 saplings have been implanted. In addition, about 1,60,000 plants are available with the department for distribution and 75,000 plants have already been distributed to grammes like ‘Maguvigondu Mara; Shalegondu Vana’ are being implemented in schools.
Afforestation will also be carried out in future in coordination with industries. Discussions are being carried out in this regard and the lands will be earmarked soon, he added.
The ’Aranya Mitra’ award was conferred on Harish Rao Mukrumpadi, A V Harinath and Dr Deddu Ganapathy Bhat on the occasion.
Mangalore South MLA J R Lobo, Dakshina Kannada Zila Panchayat President Asha Thimmappa Gowda also spoke. Mangalore City Corporation Mayor Mahabala Marla among others was present. Saplings were planted at Kadri park by dignitaries, prior to the formal function.