Minister for Forest Binoy Viswom has said that increase in the forest cover of the State was one of the major achievements of the government and it was made possible with the active support and co-operation of the officials.

Addressing a send-off meeting of the forest staff at the Inspection Bungalow at Marayur on Saturday, the minister said that while the global warming posed a threat, Kerala could boast of taking an effective step against it. The forest cover could be increased by 55,000 acres of land which faced various levels of threat in the past, he said. The projects like `My Tree,' could create a general awareness among the people regarding environmental protection and 80 percent of the saplings planted through the project survived, he said. It shows the public participation in protecting the environment which is needed for the coming generation.

The minister said that by increasing the lease amount of government land and reclaiming the land where the lease agreement had ended, government could take a stern step which could not have been done in the past.

A major achievement was the reduction in the number of sandalwood being smuggled from Marayur forest. Till today this year, only 10 cases of sandalwood smuggling had been reported, which was 67 the previous year. Before the Left Front government came, the average number of sandalwood being smuggled was above 2000, he said.

The work on the sandalwood factory at Marayur will be completed within two months, he said. Though, it was his dream to start the production of sandalwood oil during the tenure of the LDF government, it will be realised in a short time, he said and added that 10 tonne of sandalwood will be treated at the factory when the Rs 2 crore project is being realised.

The minister also visited the place where the work on the factory is going on.