‘An NoC does not mean the firms can go ahead with the projects’

The 10 mini-hydel power projects slated to come up in the district have not been accorded clearance from the Forest Department, contrary to the claims of the private companies behind them, said Anant Hegde Ashisar, Chairman of Western Ghats Task Force in Mangalore on Thursday.

Mr. Ashisar told presspersons, after a meeting with the district administration, that the companies had obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) to conduct a survey. “An NoC does not mean they have the clearance to go ahead with the projects. Though they claim the buildings will come up on private land, construction cannot begin without the clearance from the Forest Department,” he said.

Of the 220 applications received across the State, NoCs were given to 60 projects, with 10 projects slated for Dakshina Kannada, he said. The Task Force had recommended that permissions accorded should be cancelled and private companies disallowed to construct mini-hydel projects along the ghats, the chairman said.

Honey production

With experts cataloguing large-scale depletion in population of honey bees, Mr. Ashisar said there would be a focus on their conservation and hive protection this financial year. “Honey production has not been encouraged under any government scheme so far. However, now the Horticulture Department has allocated Rs. 10 crore for it. While training, marketing, and distribution of accessories needed for keeping bees will be given to farmers, the population of the wild honey bee can be sustained by planting trees that suit them in the forest,” he said.

He said the system of burning hives after extracting honey needed to be stopped as this led to depletion in their numbers. The task force had recommended to the State government the banning of the contract system in extracting honey. “For a nominal fee, for example Rs. 5,000, the contractor can extract up to Rs. 25 lakh worth of honey. This is not viable for the government,” he said.

Similarly, jackfruit cultivation would be taken up in a big way, with 50,000 trees being planted in the district this year. Marketing linkages, and training sessions for jackfruit tree cultivation and processing would be given at the taluk level, said Mr. Ashisar.

With greater budget allocation this year, he said many schemes for the protection of trees, biodiversity conservation, roadside planting, and eco-tourism would be scaled up. Particularly in focus would be mangrove, devarakadu, and sandalwood trees.

The Task Force would launch the Hasiru Arogya Abhiyaan here, where camps would be conducted in 30 places in Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada to create awareness among gram panchayats, self-help groups, and other government and private institutions about the uses of plants found in the ghats.

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