Kundapur, July 26,2017: Reports confirm that Speaking after inaugurating the Vanamahotsava-2017 organized by Kundapur division of Forest Department under the theme ’Forest for Water’, Minister for Forest B Ramanath Rai said that the state government has taken initiatives to improve the forest cover as it the only way to overcome the problem of depleting groundwater level.
The minister said that government schemes include promoting planting of saplings in fields that had been left barren.
Stressing on the importance of public participation in growing forests, the minister said that the government supports the public to grow trees. The three-year task would yield Rs 100 for each tree grown. Earlier, it was Rs 45. A farmer can earn Rs 50,000 if he plants 500 saplings. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) also supports remuneration of the beneficiary for planting saplings.
The minister said that Chinnara Vana Darshana is also organised to introduce high school children to the forest where they are taught how to preserve the forest and they are made to spend one day in the midst of a forest. The rapport would end with children themselves turning out to be messengers in creating awareness on conservation of forest, the minister added.
The Forest Conservation Act has massively reduced the deforestation process and only 30,000 hectares have been encroached when compared to the earlier figures of lakhs of hectares. At present, the forest cover in Karnataka is 22% and it should be increased to 33%. It has been undertaken to balance the ecology. Forest encroachment before 1998 is being regularised, however, after that, the law and order implications would come into force, said Rai.
He urged humans to protect wildlife as the animals have no one to protect them. Government efforts have resulted in increase in the number of wild animals in the state. Karnataka is known for the highest number of tigers, elephants and leopards. In spite of the state government doing its best to bargain in the implementation of the recommendations made by Kasturirangan Committee, the Central government is all set to introduce the recommendations. The ’Huli Yojane’ would also be brought into force by the Central government, he stated.
The minister said that in the process of strengthening of the force, recruitment of forest guards and range forest officers are held frequently. Meanwhile, a new academy to train range forest officers is set up in Dharwad. The honorarium for motivators is hiked to Rs 9,000 as against the earlier amount of Rs 5,000. All attempts would be made to hike it to Rs 10,000, the minister assured.
He said the government is introducing 50 tree parks in state in the name of Salumarada Thimmakka. A garden of medicinal plants would be introduced and one has already been set up at Padumalai. Earlier, an attractive rally with tableau was taken out in Manipal.
District In-charge Minister Pramod Madhwaraj, Deputy Commissioner Priyanka Mary Francis, PCCF Punati Shridhar, CCF Sanjay Bijoor, Udupi DCF Amarnath and Mangaluru DCF Kari Kalan among others were present for the day.