CM wants forest dept to act tough on offenders

CM wants forest dept to act tough on offenders

Official sources said that the direction was given at a closed-door review meeting with the department’s top officials at Aranya Bhavan. The chief minister, who also holds the forest portfolio, for the first time reviewed the department’s performance after he assumed office two years ago at Aranya Bhavan in Bangalore.

After conducting a survey of mining lease areas in the Bellary reserve forest area recently, where prominent mining companies including OMC of Minister Janardhana Reddy operate, the SC committee stated that the sketches of the lease area had discrepancies with respect to a majority of the companies. Yeddyurappa also asked the officials to take up afforestation programme in the area surrounding mining areas.

Sources said the chief minister was unhappy with the implementation of the Pampa programme, which is a Centrally-sponsored compensatory afforestation scheme. Under this, a user agency pays money to the government in lieu of forest land it gets for non-forest activities.

Under the scheme, the State has received Rs 58 crore while the money spent for afforestation is Rs 15 crore. After the enactment of the Forest Conservation Act in 1980, about 1.28 lakh hectares of forest land has been diverted for non-forest activities, according to sources.

The chief minister has directed officials to take up afforestation in a big way and also directed them to use funds under the MNREGA scheme.  The officials informed Yeddyurappa that the department has set a target of covering 80,000 hectares under the afforestation programme this financial year.  The chief minister was also informed that 13,000 hectare area near Belgaum has been notified as Bheemgada Sanctuary for Wroghton’s Free Tailed Bats.