Sandalwood project extended to 9 districts

Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwara told mediapersons on Monday that the project, implemented in Mysore on a pilot basis, would be extended to other parts of the State.

The plantations, coming up in Hassan, Mandya, Chikmagalur, Kolar, Dharwad, Bidar, Bangalore, Haveri and Ramanagar districts, will meet the industrial requirement.

He said: “Karnataka is called ‘srigandhadanadu’ (land of sandalwood), but there are hardly any sandalwood trees in the State forests. The precious wood has become so scarce that the State-owned Mysore Sales International Limited has been importing sandalwood from abroad to manufacture soap and other products."

Private investment in sandalwood plantation would be encouraged as a tonne of sandalwood fetches Rs 50 lakh. Though lucrative, the farmers hesitate to take up  sandalwood plantation due to security threats, the minister said. For protection of the trees, eight-foot compound walls will be built at a cost of Rs 60 lakh a km.  

A seperate cell would be set up to dispose of pending cases of forest offences, which would ensure strict enforcement of forest rules. As many as 42,000 cases have been pending in the department over the past 10 years, he said.

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