Development of Antargange to commence soon

A project to rid the Antargange forest area in the district of eucalyptus trees within three years will be implemented, promised C H Vijayashankar, State Forest and Small Industry Minister.

He spoke to mediapersons after visiting the Antargange Hills with local authorities on Thursday as part of the afforestation work.

The Forest Department owns 540 hectares of land in the Antargange Hill area. Authorities have been instructed to come up with a three-year action plan for development of the area.

“The entire forest area will be cleared of eucalyptus trees in the next five years completely. In turn, trees related to ayurveda, vanaspati, and trees like mango, neem, tamarind and banyan will be grown,” said Vijayashankar.

Lessening water level

He said that digging too many tubewells and growing eucalyptus trees were the main reasons for shortage of ground water in the region. “Programmes will be organised to spread awareness about the negative effects of growing eucalyptus trees in addition to such information,” he said.

Eucalyptus trees are grown as cash crops in Kolar district. Acasia trees are also grown in the district. The roots of both trees reach very low into the earth and absorb most of the water in the soil. This has aggravated the problem of reduction in level of underground water. Farmers in the district are entirely dependent on ground water since there is no river or other major water body. Decrease in underground water level is only increasing their woes, he explained.

“In addition, neither eucalyptus nor acasia give shade. Their leaves too cannot be used as manure. Therefore it is necessary to spread awareness against growing such trees in the region,” said Vijayashankar.

Protection measures

A district-level workshop should be conducted for forest committees in villages. They should be instructed to stop growing eucalyptus or acasia trees. “Instead they should be encouraged to grow trees like sandal, teak, rosewood, hybrid tamarind and neem in the patta land, which will be better and more profitable too,” he explained.

The minister informed that officials were instructed to protect plants and animals that are a speciality of the area but are on the verge of extinction.

Afforestation measures will be undertaken in barren and hilly areas in the region that are within the limits of the Revenue Department. The matter will be discussed with the Deputy Commissioner, Vijayashankar promised.

Yaragol issue

A letter has been written to the Central Government about handing over forest land for implentation of the Yaragol project, which will alleviate the water shortage problem in the district. The process of handing over too will begin soon, the minister said.
Small industries need to be started on the outskirts of Bangalore. The starting of such projects in the district will be discussed with concerned officials and representatives, he added.

Bangalore Circle Deputy Forest Protection Officer J N Raju, Deputy Forest Protection Officer Anil Kumar Ratan, Assistant Forest Protection Officer C Srinivas, Social Forest Division Assistant Forest Protection Officer Aanjinappa and others were present.

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