Sandalwood fragrance to spread in State

Sandalwood fragrance to spread in State

The State Forest Department, in a bid to create assets and popularise the concept of sandalwood estates, will take up the exercise of planting around 10 lakh sandalwood saplings in around 10,000 acres of forest land across the State.

Addressing mediapersons here on Friday, Forest Minister C P Yogeeshwara said that 10 places - Kolar, Ramanagara, Bangalore, Mysore, Shimoga, Belgaum, Dharwad, Chikmagalur, Hassan, Tumkur and Bidar - had been identified for planting sandalwood saplings.

Yogeeshwara said the department had failed to capitalise on asset creation under the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) scheme which was coming to an end this year. At present, the price of a tonne of sandalwood is Rs 60 lakh, and a tree will fetch Rs one crore. In 20 years, the department would have created substantial assets, he claimed and added that the department had earmarked around Rs five  crore for this project.

Yogeeshwara said his department was in the process of acquiring around 4,000 acres of rubber plantations in Kodagu from four private firms, which were granted 99-year maintenance lease during the British era. The minister said though the land was under litigation, the department will reclaim it eventually.

He said the department was also finding it difficult to reclaim around Rs 1,200 acres of coffee plantation from Tata Coffee Ltd in Palibetta in the district. Large tracts of ‘jamma malai’ land had been identified in Kodagu and that the Forest department will reclaim these too.

The identified land is around 10,000 acres, where the land use rights were given to the people. The ownership is with the department and the matter will be brought before the Cabinet, he added.

Yogeeshwara said the expert committee, constituted to look into the elephant menace at Alur in Hassan district, would submit its report this month, after which, the department will take suitable steps.

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