State plans law to compel farmers to grow trees

DH file photo for representation

The government is planning to enact a law that mandates growing a minimum of 20 trees on every acre of agricultural land in an attempt to increase green cover, Forest Minister R Shankar said Thursday.

“We have seen that it rains only where there’s forest. Something needs to be done about increasing green cover and farmers have to get involved,” Shankar told reporters. “On the one hand, we take up afforestation drives and on the other, farmers cut the trees down,” he rued.

The government will provide farmers Rs 100 per tree as support price, the minister said. “There is a provision for us to give incentives for up to 400 trees per acre,” he said, adding that the proposed legislation would benefit farmers in the parched regions of north Karnataka.

The government has already launched ‘Hasiru Karnataka’ campaign to plant 10 crore saplings across the state and increase forest cover to 33% from the existing 21%.

Asked about resorts functioning illegally within forest areas, Shankar said his department was ready to initiate action. Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Head of Forest Force) Punati Sridhar asserted that there were no resorts functioning in reserved or protected forests. 

“There may be resorts outside the boundary of a reserved/protected forest and that is out of our control. Even within the declared eco-sensitive zones, if someone owns a private land and wants to start a resort, they have to take permission. There are no illegal resorts in eco-sensitive zones,” he said.

Shankar launched the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) website - www.zoosofkarnataka.com - comprising information on all nine zoos under its jurisdiction. With the National Green Tribunal giving the Centre six months to finalise implementation of the K Kasturirangan report on conservation of the Western Ghats, Shankar said the state Cabinet would take a call on what Karnataka’s stand will be.

Besides Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have opposed the recommendations of the report, Shankar said.

“In line with the stand that the previous government took, our government had dropped the report as well. But now, we will discuss this in the Cabinet where a decision will be taken,” he said.

As many as 1,576 villages across 10 districts in the state, covering an area of 20,668 sqkm, will have to be declared eco-sensitive area as suggested by the report.

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State plans law to compel farmers to grow trees

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