Stating that the Forest Department will be made “people and environment friendly”, Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology B. Ramanath Rai said here on Tuesday that he intends to plant one lakh saplings in the State over the years. Addressing press persons, the minister said that he wanted to take up lakhsha vruksha abhiyana through the department to increase the green cover.

Mr. Rai said that he intended to make the department corruption free and his suggestion to officials was to work honestly.

Check dams

The minister said that he wanted the government to build as many check dams to West-flowing rivers to increase the ground water table which would help in forestation.

Mr. Rai reiterated that he personally opposed the government’s proposal to divert the Netravathi to providing drinking water to Chitradurga, Kolar and other districts. He said that he feared that diverting the river would create water scarcity and threaten the ecology.

The Minister said that environment conservation was a topic being discussed now at the global level. Many rivers took birth in the Western Ghats. It was important to conserve the ghats for preserving clean environment. The need of the hour was also to prevent environment pollution.

He said that there were certain issues relating to the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ). The minister did not make it clear which were those issues. A government constituted committee has submitted a report on those issues. He was yet to study it.

He said that many departments faced staff crunch at lower-level and it was not only an issue with the Forest Department.

He said that he and Minister for Health and Family Welfare U. T. Khader, Minister for Urban Development Vinay Kumar Sorake and Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports K. Abhayachandra would work together to create better infrastructure facilities in their home districts.

Mr. Rai said that he would not continue as the president of Dakshina Kannada District Congress Committee.

Death condoled

The minister expressed condolences on the death of athlete and national champion Anand Shetty in a road accident. “We have lost a good and an able sportsperson,” he said.

More In: Mangalore