Green India Mission to improve quality and quantity of forest
Thiruvanthapuram: Union government has worked out an ambitious project `Green India Mission` to improve the quality and quantity of forest cover in the country, Union
Minister for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh said here Sunday.
The mission, chalked out as part of Nation`s action plan on climate change, would be accorded approval at a meeting to be chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on February 22, Ramesh said while speaking after inaugurating the 4th Southern Forest Ministers Conference.
Objective of the mission was to increase the forest cover in another five million heactares at the same preserve and protect an equal million heactares of forest in the country,
Stating that traditional way of implementing such schemes through state forest departments would not be adopted, he said the mission would be carried out with the help of Gramma Sabhas, women self-help groups and Forest Management Committees with the technical assistance of state forest departments.
Stressing the importance of forest conservation, he said out of 69 million heactares forest region in the country, 40 percent of them are open degenerated forest.
The Green India Mission would not be a success if `we continue degreening the forest in the country`. Both of these would not work together, Ramesh said.
Calling for a stretegy to protect the Western Ghat and Eastern Ghat as they were facing great threat due to pressure for developemnt activities, Ramesh said time has come to take strict position as there were areas in these regions where no developemnt activities could be allowed`.
But, there were areas where economic activities could be sanctioned on regulated manner, he said adding `this is a very tough choice to make`.
There were pressure from states for the sanction of open mining, setting up Hydel projects and putting up railway broadgauge lines, he pointed out.
However, justifying Union Environment Minitery`s recent decision to accord permision for POSCO steel plant in Orissa, he said permission was conditional and also there was assurance that Forest Right Act would not be violated.
`Some time Environment and Forest Minister`s have to demonstrate that they have heads`, Ramesh added.
Ramesh said common strategy should be worked out by south Indian states to preserve Western ghat mangroves, wet-lands and forests.
Referring to the complaints of some of the states that the Forest Rights Act (FRA) have increased the human-wildlife conflicts, Ramesh said "Forest officials are living in fools paradise if they think that they can protect forest by keeping the local community away from the forest".
Asking for a transformation in their attitude towards the preservation of Forests in the light of the FRA, Ramesh wanted forest officials to see the new act as an opportunity to ensure local people`s participation in forest protection.
However, he said both the development activites and forest conservation should go together.
Keral State Minister Binoy Viswam and Karnataka Minister for Forest C H Vijayashankar, and top forest officials from Goa, Tamil Nadu and Pudcherry were among those attended the function.