Staff Correspondent

BHOPAL: Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan on Tuesday announced that one-third of the forest committees in Madhya Pradesh would now be headed by women and the post of chairperson or vice-chairperson in every forest committee would also be reserved for women.

The Chief Minister also announced the decision to make tendu leaf collection more remunerative. Tendu leaf, used for rolling bidis, would now be procured from growers by the Government at Rs. 450 instead of the existing price of Rs. 400 per unit bag.

The Chief Minister made the announcements at a Van Panchayat held at his residence here. He said the task of distributing Rs. 18 crores as incentive for the tendu leaf collection year 2005 would begin within a month. Mr. Chauhan said former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had taken the decision to settle all those who had encroached on forest land till 1993. This decision could not be implemented due to a Supreme Court order. Under the provisions of the Scheduled Tribes (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, which has been enacted keeping everyone's views in mind, steps would now be taken to give settlement rights to the forest dwellers, the Chief Minister said.