Udupi, July 25,2017: Minister of Forests and Environment B. Ramanath Rai has said that reckless destruction of forests was responsible for climate change, especially reduction in rainfall.
He was speaking after inaugurating a vanamohtsava programme under the “Forests for water” campaign organised by the Department of Forests here on Monday. A “Parisara Jatha,” planting of saplings and presentation of “Aranya Mitra Prashasti” were also held on the occasion.
Mr. Rai said the threat posed by climate change and global warming cannot be ignored. Hence, it was the responsibility of not just the government, but also every citizen to protect forests. The Sri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP) was also helping the government with its recently launched “Vana Samvardhana” programme in all districts of the State.
More NGOs and the corporate sector should join hands with the government in planting of saplings and increasing green cover. The government was providing cash incentive to people for planting saplings and taking care of them, he said. Government officials should give priority to digging of percolation pits and planting of saplings under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) scheme. The State was leading the country in having the largest population of tigers, leopards, elephants, and monkeys.
The State government had kept the interests of the people in mind while submitting its recommendations on the K. Kasturirangan Report on Conservation of the Western Ghats to the Centre. So, the State government was not in favour of Project Tiger coming up in the Kudremukh National Park, and had clearly stated so to the Centre. “Now the ball is in the Centre’s court,” Mr. Rai said. His department would provide gas connections and stoves to about 3,500 people in Udupi district this year so that people give up using firewood for cooking purposes, Mr. Rai said. Minister of State for Fisheries, Youth Empowerment and Sports Pramod Madhwaraj said the problem of water scarcity in Udupi city could be gauged by the fact that the Swarna went dry by April 29. Water had to be supplied from large holes in the riverbed till June 10. Even borewells were not yielding water, he said.
Meenakshi Bannanje, President of Udupi City Municipal Council, Nalini P. Rao, President of Udupi Taluk Panchayat, Lata, member-secretary of District Legal Services Authority, Priyanka Mary Francis, Deputy Commissioner, G. Anuradha, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and others were present on the occasion.